Categories of spaces built from local models

Low, Zhen Lin (2016-06-28)


Many of the classes of objects studied in geometry are defined by first choosing a class of nice spaces and then allowing oneself to glue these local models together to construct more general spaces. The most well-known examples are manifolds and schemes. The main purpose of this thesis is to give a unified account of this procedure of constructing a category of spaces built from local models and to study the general properties of such categories of spaces. The theory developed here will be illustrated with reference to examples, including the aforementioned manifolds and schemes. For concreteness, consider the passage from commutative rings to schemes. There are three main steps: first, one identifies a distinguished class of ring homomorphisms corresponding to open immersions of schemes; second, one defines the notion of an open covering in terms of these distinguished homomorphisms; and finally, one embeds the opposite of the category of commutative rings in an ambient category in which one can glue (the formal duals of) commutative rings along (the formal duals of) distinguished homomorphisms. Traditionally, the ambient category is taken to be the category of locally ringed spaces, but following Grothendieck, one could equally well work in the category of sheaves for the large Zariski site—this is the so-called ‘functor of points approach’. A third option, related to the exact completion of a category, is described in this thesis. The main result can be summarised thus: categories of spaces built from local models are extensive categories with a class of distinguished morphisms, subject to various stability axioms, such that certain equivalence relations (defined relative to the class of distinguished morphisms) have pullback-stable quotients; moreover, this construction is functorial and has a universal property.