The algebraic expression 3 + 2 + 6 can be evaluated to 11, but it can also be partially evaluated to 5 + 6. In categorical algebra, such partial evaluations can be defined in terms of the 1-skeleton of the bar construction for algebras of a monad. We show that this partial evaluation relation can be seen as the relation internal to the category of algebras generated by relating a formal expression to its total evaluation. The relation is transitive for many monads which describe commonly encountered algebraic structures, and more generally for BC monads on Set (which are those monads for which the underlying functor and the multiplication are weakly cartesian). We find that this is not true for all monads: we describe a finitary monad on Set for which the partial evaluation relation on the terminal algebra is not transitive. With the perspective of higher algebraic rewriting in mind, we then investigate the compositional structure of the bar construction in all dimensions. We show that for algebras of BC monads, the bar construction has fillers for all directed acyclic configurations in Δ^n, but generally not all inner horns.
Keywords: partial evaluation, bar construction, monads, simplicial sets
2020 MSC: 18C15
Theory and Applications of Categories, Vol. 39, 2023, No. 11, pp 322-364.