In this article the notion of virtual double category (also known as fc-multicategory) is extended as follows. While cells in a virtual double category classically have a horizontal multi-source and single horizontal target, the notion of augmented virtual double category introduced here extends the latter notion by including cells with empty horizontal target as well.
Any augmented virtual double category comes with a built-in notion of "locally small object" and we describe advantages of using augmented virtual double categories as a setting for formal category rather than 2-categories, which are classically equipped with a notion of "admissible object" by means of a yoneda structure in the sense of Street and Walters.
An object is locally small precisely if it admits a horizontal unit, and we show that the notions of augmented virtual double category and virtual double category coincide in the presence of all horizontal units. Without assuming the existence of horizontal units we show that most of the basic theory for virtual double categories, such as that of restriction and composition of horizontal morphisms, extends to augmented virtual double categories. We introduce and study in augmented virtual double categories the notion of "pointwise" composition of horizontal morphisms, which formalises the classical composition of profunctors given by the coend formula.
Keywords: augmented virtual double category, multicategory, yoneda structure
2010 MSC: 18D05
Theory and Applications of Categories, Vol. 35, 2020, No. 10, pp 261-325.