Applied Category Theory 2020 — Adjoint School


Like last year and the year before, there will be a school associated to this year’s international conference on applied category theory! If you’re trying to get into applied category theory, this is the best possible way.

Applied Category Theory 2020 — Adjoint School.

The school will consist of online meetings from February to June 2020, followed by a research week June 29–July 3, 2020 at MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts. The conference follows on July 6–10, 2020, and if you attend the school you should also go to the conference.

The deadline to apply is January 15 2020; apply here.

There will be 4 mentors teaching courses at the school:

• Michael Johnson, Categories of maintainable relations.

• Nina Otter, Diagrammatic and algebraic approaches to distances between persistence modules.

• Valeria de Paiva, Dialectica categories of Petri nets.

• Michael Shulman, A practical type theory for symmetric monoidal categories.

Click on the links for more detailed information!

Who should apply?

Anyone, from anywhere in the world, who is interested in applying category-theoretic methods to problems outside of pure mathematics. This is emphatically not restricted to math students, but one should be comfortable working with mathematics. Knowledge of basic category-theoretic language—the definition of monoidal category for example—is encouraged.

We will consider advanced undergraduates, PhD students, post-docs, as well as people working outside of academia. Members of minorities, and of any groups which are underrepresented in the mathematics and computer science communities, are especially encouraged to apply.

Structure of the school

Every participant will be assigned to one of the groups above, according to their preference (and to the availability of places within the groups). Each group will consist of a mentor, a TA, and 4-5 students.

Online meetings

Between February and June 2020 there will be an online reading seminar. Each group will have a reading list of two papers, which they will study, and then present to the rest of the school during weekly online meetings. Every member of the school is encouraged to take part in the discussion of every paper, first during the meeting via live chat, and then, in written form, on an online forum. After the presentation and the forum discussion the students of each group will write a blog post about their assigned paper on the n-Category Café.

During this period, the TAs will be there to help the students, answer any question they might have, and moderate the discussions. This way, all the participants will build the necessary background to take part in the research activities during the week at MIT.

Research week

After the online meetings, there will be a two-week event at MIT, from June 29th to July 10th 2020. The first week is dedicated exclusively to the participants of the school. They will work in groups on the research projects outlined above, led by their mentors, with the help of their TAs.

During the second week the ACT 2020 Conference will take place, which is open to a wider audience. The member of each group of the school will have the possibility to present their activity to the audience of the conference, and share their ideas. The conference is not technically part of the school, but is about very similar topics, and participation is very much encouraged. The online meetings should prepare students to be able to follow some of the conference presentations to a reasonable degree, and introduce them to the main problems and techniques of the field.


For any questions or doubts please write us at the address act adjoint school at gmail dot com.


Carmen Constantin

Eliana Lorch

Paolo Perrone

6 Responses to Applied Category Theory 2020 — Adjoint School

  1. Vipul Lotke says:

    Hi Dr. Baez,
    Will applications from people in industry be considered for the Adjoint School?

    • John Baez says:

      Sure! As the announcement says:

      Who should apply?

      Anyone, from anywhere in the world, who is interested in applying category-theoretic methods to problems outside of pure mathematics. […] We will consider advanced undergraduates, PhD students, post-docs, as well as people working outside of academia.

  2. Here’s the big annual conference on applied category theory:

    ACT2020, 2020 July 6-10, MIT, Cambridge Massachusetts. Organized by Brendan Fong and David Spivak.

    This happens right after the applied category theory school, which will be held in the same location June 29 – July 3.

  3. Wow! Elena Di Lavore and Xiaoyan Li explained how to make a category of Petri nets that’s a model of linear logic! I consider myself a sort of expert on Petri nets, but I didn’t know this stuff:

    • Elena Di Lavore and Xiaoyan Li, Linear logic flavoured composition of Petri nets, The n-Category Café, 27 July 2020.

    Elena Di Lavore and Xiaoyan Li wrote this blog article for the ACT2020 Adjoint School, and they’re explaining Carolyn Brown and Doug Gurr’s paper “A categorical linear framework for Petri nets”.

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