Michael Barr | 20 May 00:43 1998

Re: Who said: General Abstract Nonsense

This is interesting if indeed it was due to Steenrod.  In that case, it
was certainly not intended as a putdown (as Lang clearly intended it).
Sammy Eilenberg told on a number of occasions the story that when General
Theory of Natural Equivalences was published, Steenrod said that no paper
had ever influenced his thinking more.  He had been searching for years
for an axiomatization of homology theory, but had never thought of using
the induced homomorphisms as the basic tool.  The result was, of course,
the Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms.  (The rest of the story is that P.A. Smith
said he never read a more trivial paper in his life.  Sammy commented that
both reactions were valid.)

On Tue, 19 May 1998, Tim Heap wrote:

> pareigis  writes:
> Bodo> Hi - who coined the expression
> Bodo>    General Abstract Nonsense
> Bodo> as a synonym for category theory?  Where did it first appear in
> Bodo> print?
> Lang, in his book `Algebra' says:
> 	"The terminology is due to Steenrod."
> 	tim