Cyber Kittens, or Some First Steps Towards Categorical Cybernetics

Toby St Clere Smithe
(University of Oxford)

We define a categorical notion of cybernetic system as a dynamical realisation of a generalized open game, along with a coherence condition. We show that this notion captures a wide class of cybernetic systems in computational neuroscience and statistical machine learning, exposes their compositional structure, and gives an abstract justification for the bidirectional structure empirically observed in cortical circuits. Our construction is built on the observation that Bayesian updates compose optically, a fact which we prove along the way, via a fibred category of state-dependent stochastic channels.

In David I. Spivak and Jamie Vicary: Proceedings of the 3rd Annual International Applied Category Theory Conference 2020 (ACT 2020), Cambridge, USA, 6-10th July 2020, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 333, pp. 108–124.
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Published: 8th February 2021.

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