Category theory was formalized around 1950s, and Grothendieck made his breakthrough papers about 10-20 years from that time. I wish to know, how was it possible the ideas of Category Theory were so quickly adopted?

I find this quite fascinating because there was no internet that time, and Grothendieck was involved in a different circle of Mathematicians (French) than those who found Category theory (American).

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, they used to exchange letters (those scribbled things on pieces of paper, remember?). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ Imo you need to adjust your expectations wrt the speed of diffusion wrt tech innovation. For example, Robert Shiller, Nobel in economics, gives causal attribution to the Dutch Tulip Bubble of the 17th c to the acceleration in information diffusion with the printing press, in his essay pub'd in The Great Mirror of Folly google.com/books/edition/The_Great_Mirror_of_Folly/… $\endgroup$
    – DJohnson
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ Eilenberg joined Bourbaki in the late 40s. At the very least, Cartan reports a date of about 1947 in the process. The Bourbaki drafts on homological algebra/algebraic topology post-WW2 definitely included category theory, and Grothendieck, through Schwarz, Dieudonné, Serre, Cartan, Koszul etc, not least the Séminaire Cartan, would very likely have been exposed to category theory, since algebraic topology was very much being presented in the Séminaire, for instance by Serre and Cartan, from 1948 onwards. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ Bourbaki had been interested in algebraic topology even before WW2, with various members recorded as being in the process of putting together Rédactions (eg Ehresmann), though it was often called "combinatorial topology" in the very earliest days. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? How did Grothendieck encounter and adopt the categorical language? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2023 at 14:43


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