Another kind of example one often sees in mathematics is categories of structured sets, that is, sets with some further “structure” and functions that “preserve it,” where these notions are determined in some independent way.

A partially ordered set or poset is a set A equipped with a binary relation a ≤A b such that the following conditions hold for all a, b, c ∈ A:

  • reflexivity: a ≤A a
  • transitivity: if a ≤A b and b ≤A c, then a ≤A c
  • antisymmetry: if a ≤A b and b ≤A a, then a = b

An arrow from a poset A to a poset B is a function m: A => B that is monotone, in the sense that, for all a, a’ ∈ A,

  • a ≤A a’ implies m(a) ≤A m(a’).

As long as the functions are monotone, the objects will continue to be in the category, so the “structure” is preserved. The category of posets and monotone functions is denoted as Pos. Awodey likes posets, so it’s important we understand it.

An example of poset is the Int type where the binary operation of is integer <= just as it is defined with PartialOrder typeclass. Another example could be case class LString(value: String) where is defined by comparing the length of value.

scala> :paste
// Entering paste mode (ctrl-D to finish)

case class LString(value: String)
val f: Int => LString = (x: Int) => LString(if (x < 0) "" else x.toString)

// Exiting paste mode, now interpreting.

defined class LString
f: Int => LString = <function1>

scala> f(0)
res0: LString = LString(0)

scala> f(10)
res1: LString = LString(10)

f in the above is monotone since f(0) ≤ f(10), and any other pairs of Ints that are a <= a'.