Spined Categories: generalising tree-width beyond graphs
Tree-width is an invaluable tool for computational problems on graphs. But often one would like to compute on other kinds of objects (e.g. decorated graphs or even algebraic structures) where there is no known tree-width analogue. Here we define an abstract analogue of tree-width which provides a uniform definition of various tree-width-like invariants including graph tree-width, hypergraph tree-width, complemented tree-width and even new constructions such as the tree-width of modular quotients. We obtain this generalization by developing a general theory of categories that admit abstract analogues of both tree decompositions and tree-width; we call these pseudo-chordal completions and the triangulation functor respectively.