Quillen equivalence



Model category theory

model category



Universal constructions


Producing new model structures

Presentation of (,1)(\infty,1)-categories

Model structures

for \infty-groupoids

for ∞-groupoids

for rational \infty-groupoids

for nn-groupoids

for \infty-groups

for \infty-algebras



for stable/spectrum objects

for (,1)(\infty,1)-categories

for stable (,1)(\infty,1)-categories

for (,1)(\infty,1)-operads

for (n,r)(n,r)-categories

for (,1)(\infty,1)-sheaves / \infty-stacks



A model category is a context in which we can do homotopy theory or some generalization thereof; two model categories are ‘the same’ for this purpose if they are Quillen equivalent. For example, the classic version of homotopy theory can be done using either topological spaces or simplicial sets. There is a model category of topological spaces, and a model category of simplicial sets, and they are Quillen equivalent.

In short, Quillen equivalence is the right notion of equivalence for model categories — and most importantly, this notion is weaker than equivalence of categories. The work of Dwyer–Kan, Bergner and others has shown that Quillen equivalent model categories present equivalent (infinity,1)-categories.


Let CC and DD be model categories and let

(LR):CLRD (L \dashv R) : C \stackrel{\overset{R}{\leftarrow}}{\underset{L}{\to}} D

be a Quillen adjunction with LL left adjoint to RR.

Write HoCHo C and HoDHo D for the corresponding homotopy categories.

By the discussion there, HoCHo C may be regarded as obtained by first passing to the full subcategory on cofibrant objects and then inverting weak equivalences, and LL (being a left Quillen adjoint) preserves weak equivalences between cofibrant objects. Thus, LL induces a functor

𝕃:HoCHoD \mathbb{L} : Ho C \to Ho D

between the homotopy categories, called its (total) left derived functor. Similarly (but dually), RR induces a (total) right derived functor :HoDHoC\mathbb{R} : Ho D \to Ho C. See at homotopy category of a model category – derived functors for more.


A Quillen adjunction (LR)(L \dashv R) is a Quillen equivalence if the following equivalent conditions are satisfied.

  • The total left derived functor 𝕃:Ho(C)Ho(D)\mathbb{L} : Ho(C) \to Ho(D) is an equivalence of the homotopy categories;

  • The total right derived functor :Ho(D)Ho(C)\mathbb{R} : Ho(D) \to Ho(C) is an equivalence of the homotopy categories;

  • For every cofibrant object cCc \in C and every fibrant object dDd \in D, a morphism cR(d)c \to R(d) is a weak equivalence in CC precisely when the adjunct morphism L(c)dL(c) \to d is a weak equivalence in DD.

  • The following two conditions hold:

    1. The derived adjunction unit is a weak equivalence, in that for every cofibrant object cCc\in C, the composite cη cR(L(c))R(L(c) fib)c \overset{\eta_c}{\to} R(L(c)) \to R(L(c)^{fib}) (of the adjunction unit with a fibrant replacement R(L(c)L(c) fib)R(L(c) \stackrel{\simeq}{\to} L(c)^{fib})) is a weak equivalence in CC,

    2. The derived adjunction counit is a weak equivalence, in that for every fibrant object dDd\in D, the composite L(R(d) cof)L(R(d))ϵ ddL(R(d)^{cof}) \to L(R(d)) \overset{\epsilon_d}{\to} d (of the adjunction counit with cofibrant replacement L(R(d) cofR(d))L(R(d)^{cof} \stackrel{\simeq}{\to} R(d))) is a weak equivalence in DD.


Not every equivalence between homotopy categories of model categories lifts to a Quillen equivalence. An interesting counterexample is given for instance in (Dugger-Shipley 09).

Here are further characterizations:


If in a Quillen adjunction 𝒞 RL 𝒟 \array{\mathcal{C} &\underoverset{\underset{R}{\to}}{\overset{L}{\leftarrow}}{\bot}& \mathcal{D}} the right adjoint RRcreates weak equivalences” (in that a morphism ff in 𝒞\mathcal{C} is a weak equivalence precisely if R(f)R(f) is) then (LR)(L \dashv R) is a Quillen equivalence precisely already if for all cofibrant objects c𝒞c \in \mathcal{C} the plain adjunction unit

cηR(L(c)) c \overset{\eta}{\longrightarrow} R (L (c))

is a weak equivalence.

(e.g. Erdal-Ilhan 19, Lemma 3.3.)


Generally, (LR)(L \dashv R) is a Quillen equivalence precisely if

  1. for every cofibrant object d𝒟d\in \mathcal{D}, the “derived adjunction unit”, hence the composite

    dηR(L(d))R(j L(d))R(P(L(d))) d \overset{\eta}{\longrightarrow} R(L(d)) \overset{R(j_{L(d)})}{\longrightarrow} R(P(L(d)))

    (of the adjunction unit with image under RR of any fibrant replacement L(d)Wj L(d)R(P(L(d)))L(d) \underoverset{\in W}{j_{L(d)}}{\longrightarrow} R(P(L(d)))) is a weak equivalence;

  2. for every fibrant object c𝒞c \in \mathcal{C}, the “derived adjunction counit”, hence the composite

    L(Q(R(c)))L(p R(c))L(R(c))ϵc L(Q(R(c))) \overset{L(p_{R(c)})}{\longrightarrow} L(R(c)) \overset{\epsilon}{\longrightarrow} c

    (of the adjunction counit with the image under LL of any cofibrant replacement QR(c)Wp R(c)R(c)Q R(c)\underoverset{\in W}{p_{R(c)}}{\longrightarrow} R(c) is a weak equivalence in DD.

Consider the first condition: Since RR preserves the weak equivalence j L(d)j_{L(d)}, by two-out-of-three the composite in the first item is a weak equivalence precisely if η\eta is.

Hence it is now sufficient to show that in this case the second condition above is automatic.

Since RR also reflects weak equivalences, the composite in item two is a weak equivalence precisely if its image

R(L(Q(R(c))))R(L(p R(c)))R(L(R(c)))R(ϵ)R(c) R(L(Q(R(c)))) \overset{R(L(p_{R(c))})}{\longrightarrow} R(L(R(c))) \overset{R(\epsilon)}{\longrightarrow} R(c)

under RR is.

Moreover, assuming, by the above, that η Q(R(c))\eta_{Q(R(c))} on the cofibrant object Q(R(c))Q(R(c)) is a weak equivalence, then by two-out-of-three this composite is a weak equivalence precisely if the further composite with η\eta is

Q(R(c))η Q(R(c))R(L(Q(R(c))))R(L(p R(c)))R(L(R(c)))R(ϵ)R(c). Q(R(c)) \overset{\eta_{Q(R(c))}}{\longrightarrow} R(L(Q(R(c)))) \overset{R(L(p_{R(c))})}{\longrightarrow} R(L(R(c))) \overset{R(\epsilon)}{\longrightarrow} R(c) \,.

But by the formula for adjuncts, this composite is the (LR)(L\dashv R)-adjunct of the original composite, which is just p R(c)p_{R(c)}

L(Q(R(c)))L(p R(c))L(R(c))ϵcQ(R(C))p R(c)R(c). \frac{ L(Q(R(c))) \overset{L(p_{R(c)})}{\longrightarrow} L(R(c)) \overset{\epsilon}{\longrightarrow} c }{ Q(R(C)) \overset{p_{R(c)}}{\longrightarrow} R(c) } \,.

But p R(c)p_{R(c)} is a weak equivalence by definition of cofibrant replacement.



Since equivalences of categories enjoy the 2-out-of-3-property, so do Quillen equivalences.

Presentation of equivalence of (,1)(\infty,1)-categories

sSet-enriched Quillen equivalences between combinatorial model categories present equivalences between the corresponding locally presentable (infinity,1)-categories. And every equivalence between these is presented by a Zig-Zag of Quillen equivalences. See there for more details.



(trivial Quillen equivalence)

Let 𝒞\mathcal{C} be a model category. Then the identity functor on 𝒞\mathcal{C} constitutes a Quillen equivalence from 𝒞\mathcal{C} to itself:

𝒞 Qu Quidid𝒞 \mathcal{C} \underoverset {\underset{id}{\longrightarrow}} {\overset{id}{\longleftarrow}} {\phantom{{}_{Qu}}\simeq_{Qu}} \mathcal{C}

From this prop. it is clear that in this case the derived functors 𝕃id\mathbb{L}id and id\mathbb{R}id both are themselves the identity functor on the homotopy category of a model category, hence in particular are an equivalence of categories.


Let 𝒞\mathcal{C} be a model category, and ϕ:ST\phi : S \to T be a weak equivalence. Suppose either that ϕ\phi is a trivial fibration, that 𝒞\mathcal{C} is right proper, or that both SS and TT are fibrant.

Then the composition-pullback adjunction is a Quillen equivalence

𝒞 /S Qu Quϕ !ϕ *𝒞 /T \mathcal{C}_{/S} \underoverset {\underset{\phi_!}{\longrightarrow}} {\overset{\phi^*}{\longleftarrow}} {\phantom{{}_{Qu}}\simeq_{Qu}} \mathcal{C}_{/T}

The sufficient condition this proof uses is that that every pullback of ϕ\phi along a fibration is a weak equivalence; this is guaranteed by any of the listed conditions.

It’s immediate from the definition of the model structure on an over category that ϕ !\phi_! preserves all three classes of morphisms. Given a cofibrant object XSX \to S (i.e. XX is cofibrant in 𝒞\mathcal{C}) and a fibrant object YTY \to T (i.e. YTY \to T is a fibration in 𝒞\mathcal{C}), we seek to show that Xϕ *(Y)X \to \phi^*(Y) is a weak equivalence iff ϕ !(X)Y\phi_!(X) \to Y is a weak equivalence.

X S× TY Y S T \array{ X &\to& S \times_T Y &\to& Y \\ && \downarrow && \downarrow \\ && S &\to& T }

Unfolding the definitions, we seek to prove that XS× TYX \to S \times_T Y is a weak equivalence iff XYX \to Y is a weak equivalence. This is true if S× TYYS \times_T Y \to Y is a weak equivalence, which is true by assumption.


For standard references see at model category.

An example of an equivalence of homotopy categories of model categories which does not lift to a Quillen equivalence is in

  • Daniel Dugger, Brooke Shipley, A curious example of triangulated-equivalent model categories which are not Quillen equivalent, Algebraic & Geometric Topology 9 (2009) (pdf)

The characterization of Quillen equivalences in the case that one of the adjoints creates equivalences appears for instance in

  • Mehmet Akif Erdal, Aslı Güçlükan İlhan, A model structure via orbit spaces for equivariant homotopy, Journal of Homotopy and Related Structures volume 14, pages 1131–1141 (2019) (arXiv:1903.03152, doi:10.1007/s40062-019-00241-4)

Last revised on June 17, 2021 at 02:43:42. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.