About us

What is categorical cybernetics?

Category theory is a field of pure mathematics that arose out of topology and geometry. Applied category theory (ACT) is a recently-emerged interdisciplinary field that applies methods of category theory to practical problems, achieving industrial success in fields such as quantum computing and natural language processing.

Categorical cybernetics, or CyberCat for short (from the same litter as DisCoCat), is a sub-field of ACT focussing on optimisation and control. Our focus is more narrow still: we restrict our attention to exploring the theory and applications of a small set of category-theoretic tools such as optics and open games.

Cybernetics, seriously?!

Cybernetics clearly has a bad rep today. We attribute this to some cyberneticists (around the 1970s) making many overblown claims that they could not back up. We believe the time is right to reclaim the term cybernetics, as a unified and interdisciplinary study of optimisation and control. However, this time we will be humble, and we see our methods as one tool in a much larger toolbox and not as the answer to all problems.

Why an independent institute?

In one word: flexibility! Our mission cuts through traditional academic boundaries. We need people with very different backgrounds working closely together. While encouraged by universities in theory, in practice it is hard to achieve because of administrative structures.

Our main goal is to develop practically useful software tools, so we need software engineers to be part of the core team. Such an inclusion is much easier when done outside of a university.

The Institute is a complement, not a substitute, to academic research. We have strong ties with universities and aim to continue them.