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April 6, 2020

Structured Cospans and Petri Nets

Posted by John Baez

I’m giving a talk at the MIT Categories Seminar. It’ll be on Thursday April 9th, 12 noon Eastern Time.

You can see my talk live on YouTube here, with simultaneous discussion on the Category Theory Community Server. (To join this, click here; this link will expire in a while.) The talk will be recorded and remain available on YouTube.

You can already see the slides here.

This talk on structured cospans and Petri nets is the second of a two-part series, but it should be understandable on its own. The first part was on structured cospans and double categories.

Structured cospans and Petri nets

Abstract. “Structured cospans” are a general way to study networks with inputs and outputs. Here we illustrate this using a type of network popular in theoretical computer science: Petri nets. An “open” Petri net is one with certain places designated as inputs and outputs. We can compose open Petri nets by gluing the outputs of one to the inputs of another. Using the formalism of structured cospans, open Petri nets can be treated as morphisms of a symmetric monoidal category—or better, a symmetric monoidal double category. We explain two forms of semantics for open Petri nets using symmetric monoidal double functors out of this double category. The first, an operational semantics, gives for each open Petri net a category whose morphisms are the processes that this net can carry out. The second, a “reachability” semantics, simply says what these processes can accomplish. This is joint work with Kenny Courser and Jade Master.

The talk is based on these papers:

I’ve blogged about open Petri nets before, and these articles might be a good way to start learning about them:

  • Part 1: the double category of open Petri nets.

  • Part 2: the reachability semantics for open Petri nets.

  • Part 3: the free symmetric monoidal category on a Petri net.

Posted at April 6, 2020 7:38 PM UTC

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Thanks John, this sounds marvelous! You may have already addressed this question, but I wonder if there is official registration required for online meetings and conferences like this one? Registration fees? I suppose there might be a variety of situations, and I was guessing you might be the one to ask!

Posted by: Stefan Forcey on April 6, 2020 10:00 PM | Permalink | Reply to this


Answering my own question: I see from your earlier post that at least ACT2020 is now free, but one should register. Also I see the post of April 6 that has a nice calendar. Thanks again.

Posted by: Stefan Forcey on April 6, 2020 10:06 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

This online seminar is free and cofree, but you have to make your own coffee. I don’t know of any online category theory events where they have the gall to charge money.

Posted by: John Baez on April 6, 2020 10:55 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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