# Contents

## Definition

An inverse of a morphism $f : X \to Y$ in a category (or an element of a monoid) is another morphism $f^{-1} : Y \to X$ which is both a left-inverse (a retraction) as well as a right-inverse (a section) of $f$, in that

$f \circ f^{-1} : Y \to X \to Y$

equals the identity morphism on $Y$ and

$f^{-1} \circ f : X \to Y \to X$

equals the identity morphism on $X$.

## Remarks

• A morphism which has an inverse is called an isomorphism.

• The inverse $f^{-1}$ is unique if it exists.

• The inverse of an inverse morphism is the original morphism, $(f^{-1})^{-1} = f$.

• A category in which all morphisms have inverses is called a groupoid.

• An amusing exercise is to show that if $f,g,h$ are morphisms such that $f\circ g,\; g\circ h$ are defined and are isomorphisms, then $f,g,h$ are all isomorphisms.

## In non-associative contexts

These can be a little more complicated; see quasigroup for some discussion of the one-object version.

Revised on April 9, 2014 07:54:16 by Urs Schreiber (145.116.131.80)