## Two isomorphism criteria for directed colimits

Using the general notions of finitely presentable and finitely generated object introduced by Gabriel and Ulmer in 1971, we prove that, in any (locally small) category, two sequences of finitely presentable objects and morphisms (or two sequences of finitely generated objects and monomorphisms) have isomorphic colimits (=direct limits) if, and only if, they are *confluent*. The latter means that the two given sequences can be connected by a back-and-forth chain of morphisms that is cofinal on each side, and commutes with the sequences at each finite stage. In several concrete situations, analogous isomorphism criteria are typically obtained by *ad hoc* arguments. The abstract results given here can play the useful rôle of discerning the general from the specific in situations of actual interest. We illustrate by applying them to varieties of algebras, on the one hand, and to *dimension groups*—the ordered $K_{0}$ of approximately finite-dimensional C*-algebras—on the other. The first application encompasses such classical examples as Kurosh’s isomorphism criterion for countable torsion-free Abelian groups of finite rank. The second application yields the Bratteli-Elliott Isomorphism Criterion for dimension groups. Finally, we discuss Bratteli’s original isomorphism criterion for approximately finite-dimensional C*-algebras, and show that his result does not follow from ours.

Two isomorphism criteria for directed colimits