# abstract nonsense

## English[edit]

### Etymology[edit]

Coined by Norman Steenrod, popularized by Serge Lang.

### Noun[edit]

**abstract nonsense** (*uncountable*)

- (mathematics, humorous) Details which are straightforward but so tedious that an author or lecturer would rather skip them (especially those of a category theoretical nature).
- (mathematics, humorous) Details which involve diagram chasing.
**2016**, Emily Riehl, Category Theory in Context (Aurora: Dover modern math originals)^{[1]}, New York: Dover, →ISBN, OCLC 976394474, page x:^{3}Lang’s*Algebra*[**Lan02**, p. 759] supports the general consensus that this was not intended as an epithet:

In the forties and fifties (mostly in the works of Cartan, Eilenberg, MacLane, and Steenrod, see [**CE56**]), it was realized that there was a systematic way of developing certain relations of linear algebra, depending only on fairly general constructions which were mostly arrow-theoretic, and were affectionately called**abstract nonsense**by Steenrod.

- (mathematics, humorous) Category theory in general.

#### Coordinate terms[edit]

- (skipped details): handwave

#### Translations[edit]

straightforward and tedious details

category theory