In category theory, a branch of mathematics, group objects are certain generalizations of groups that are built on more complicated structures than sets. A typical example of a group object is a topological group, a group whose underlying set is a topological space such that the group operations are continuous.
Formally, we start with a category C with finite products (i.e. C has a terminal object 1 and any two objects of C have a product). A group object in C is an object G of C together with morphisms
such that the following properties (modeled on the group axioms – more precisely, on the definition of a group used in universal algebra) are satisfied
Note that this is stated in terms of maps – product and inverse must be maps in the category – and without any reference to underlying "elements" of the group object – categories in general do not have elements of their objects.
Another way to state the above is to say G is a group object in a category C if for every object X in C, there is a group structure on the morphisms Hom(X, G) from X to G such that the association of X to Hom(X, G) is a (contravariant) functor from C to the category of groups.
Much of group theory can be formulated in the context of the more general group objects. The notions of group homomorphism, subgroup, normal subgroup and the isomorphism theorems are typical examples. However, results of group theory that talk about individual elements, or the order of specific elements or subgroups, normally cannot be generalized to group objects in a straightforward manner.