Category theory outreach panel

Thursday 16th of March, 2023, 17:00(UTC)

Hosted by the Topos Institute


Category theory is a wonderful subject, deep and broad, spanning the breadth of mathematics and having applications throughout science, engineering, technology, and the arts. But for people outside of academia, it can be a difficult subject to learn. Topos Institute is hosting a panel discussion, moderated by Emily Riehl, featuring panelists who are actively involved in producing category theory books and videos for a non-expert audience. The panellists will discuss their philosophy and techniques, and provide support and encouragement for others to join in this important work. They will also take questions from viewers to help people get a better handle on how they may begin to learn the subject and to help category theorists understand what they can do to facilitate this process. The discussion will be livestreamed and then archived on the Topos Institute YouTube channel for all to view.


Emily Riehl (chair)

Emily Riehl is Professor of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, working on higher category theory, abstract homotopy theory, and homotopy type theory. She studied at Harvard and Cambridge Universities, earned her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and was a Benjamin Pierce and NSF postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She has published over thirty papers and written three books: Categorical Homotopy Theory (Cambridge 2014), Category Theory in Context (Dover 2016), and Elements of ∞-Category Theory (Cambridge 2022, joint with Dominic Verity). She was recently elected as a member at large of the Council of the American Mathematical Society. In addition to her research, Dr. Riehl is active in promoting access to the world of mathematics through popular writing and in interviews and podcasts. She was also a co-founder of Spectra: the Association for LGBT Mathematicians.

Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician, educator, author, public speaker, columnist, concert pianist, artist and composer. She was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over 20 million times to date. She is the author several popular math books including "How to Bake Pi" and "x+y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender" as well as two children's books, and her books have been translated into 18 languages. She has given talks and interviews around the world including for the BBC, NPR, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song based in Chicago, writes the Everyday Math column for the Wall Street Journal, and has completed several art commissions and art song commissions. She is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, won tenure in Pure Mathematics at the University in Sheffield, and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book is "The Joy of Abstraction: An Exploration of Math, Category Theory, and Life" (Cambridge University Press) and her next is "Is Math Real? How Simple Questions Lead us to Mathematics' Deepest Truths" (Basic/Profile), out in 2023.

Hello, Oliver here. I run a YouTube channel about mathematics, media and anything else that catches my eye. While pursuing a masters dissertation on category theory, I made a few videos on the subject which found surprising traction. I’ve thus accidentally ended up with a large and impassioned following of category theory enthusiasts who will no doubt be excited to learn more about this fascinating topic, whether that’s from me or the actual experts.

Paul Dancstep

Paul Dancstep is an educational designer. For over 15 years he made hands-on exhibits and programs at San Francisco's Exploratorium. He's currently working on an educational video game exploring alternative approaches to high school algebra. As a self-taught category theory enthusiast, Paul is familiar with the challenges faced by learners trying to engage with the subject outside of a traditional academic setting.

Tai-Danae Bradley is a mathematician at SandboxAQ and holds a visiting faculty position at The Master's University. She earned a PhD in mathematics at the CUNY Graduate Center in 2020 and was previously a postdoctoral researcher at X, the Moonshot Factory. She is also the creator of the mathematics blog Math3ma, coauthor of Topology: A Categorical Approach, and a former co-host of the PBS YouTube channel Infinite Series.