Second Symposium on Compositional Structures (SYCO 2)

University of Strathclyde, UK
17-18 December, 2018

The Symposium on Compositional Structures is a new interdisciplinary series of meetings aiming to support the growing community of researchers interested in the phenomenon of compositionality, from both applied and abstract perspectives, and in particular where category theory serves as a unifying common language. We welcome submissions from researchers across computer science, mathematics, physics, philosophy, and beyond, with the aim of fostering friendly discussion, disseminating new ideas, and spreading knowledge between fields. Submission is encouraged for both mature research and work in progress, and by both established academics and junior researchers, including students.

Submission is easy, with no format requirements or page restrictions. The meeting does not have proceedings, so work can be submitted even if it has been submitted or published elsewhere. You could submit work-in-progress, or a recently completed paper, or even a PhD or Masters thesis.

While no list of topics could be exhaustive, SYCO welcomes submissions with a compositional focus related to any of the following areas, in particular from the perspective of category theory:

This new series aims to bring together the communities behind many previous successful events which have taken place over the last decade, including Categories, Logic and Physics, Categories, Logic and Physics (Scotland), Higher-Dimensional Rewriting and Applications, String Diagrams in Computational, Logic and Physics, Applied Category Theory, Simons Workshop on Compositionality, the Yorkshire and Midlands Category Theory Seminar, and the Peripatetic Seminar in Sheaves and Logic.

SYCO 1 was held in September 2018 at the University of Birmingham. The steering committee hopes that SYCO will become a regular fixture in the academic calendar, running every few months throughout the year, and becoming over time a standard venue for presentation and discussion of results in an informal and friendly atmosphere. The next event will be SYCO 3 at the University of Oxford on 27-28 March 2019.

Invited speakers

Corina Cîrstea Martha Lewis
Corina Cîrstea Martha Lewis
Department of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, University of Amsterdam
Quantitative coalgebras for optimal synthesis Compositionality in Semantic Spaces

Accepted presentations

A list of accepted presentations can be found here.

Important dates

All deadlines are 23:59 anywhere-on-earth on the given dates.


The talks will take place in room MC301, on the 3rd floor of the McCance Building of the University of Strathclyde. The registration, coffee breaks, and drinks reception will be just outside this room. Lunch is provided on the Tuesday, but not on the Monday. Here is a map with suggestions where to eat in Glasgow city centre.

TimeMonday 17 DecemberTuesday 18 September
09:30–10:00 Martha Lewis: "Compositionality in Semantic Spaces" (invited talk) (slides)
10:30–11:00 REGISTRATION and COFFEE Benjamin Dupont: "Diagrammatic rewriting modulo isotopy" (slides)
11:00–11:30 COFFEE BREAK
11:30–12:00 Corina Cîrstea: "Quantitative coalgebras for optimal synthesis" (invited talk) (slides) Antonin Delpeuch and Jamie Vicary: "Complexity of the word problem for free monoidal categories" (slides)
12:00–12:30 Sander Uijlen: "On process matrices and non-signalling processes" (slides)
12:30–13:00 Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh, Matthew Purver and Ruth Kempson: "Exploring Semantic Incrementality with Dynamic Syntax and Vector Space Semantics" (slides) Bruno Gavranović: "Generative Adversarial Networks, Databases and Automatic Differentiation" (slides)
13:00–13:30 LUNCH (map with suggestions) LUNCH (provided)
14:00–14:30 Dominic Verdon: "Coherence for braided and symmetric pseudomonoids"
14:30–15:00 Mathieu Huot and Sam Staton: "Universal Properties in Quantum Theory" (slides) Christopher Dean: "Higher Modules and Directed Identity Types"
15:00–15:30 Robin Cockett, Cole Comfort and Priyaa Varshinee Srinivasan: "Quantum Channels for Mixed Unitary Categories" (slides) Bob Coecke, Anthony Munson, Kang Feng Ng and Quanlong Wang: "A general overview of some ZX-calculus completeness results" (slides)
15:30–16:00 Gijs Wijnholds and Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh: "Classical Copying versus Quantum Entanglement in Natural Language: the Case of VP-ellipsis" (slides) COFFEE BREAK
16:00–16:30 COFFEE BREAK Filippo Bonchi, Jens Seeber and Pawel Sobocinski: "Completeness for Cartesian bicategories" (slides)
16:30–17:00 Filippo Bonchi, Joshua Holland, Robin Piedeleu, Pawel Sobocinski and Fabio Zanasi: "Picturing Resources in Concurrency: from Linear to Additive Relations" (slides) Paul Blain Levy, Sergey Goncharov and Lutz Schröder: "Traced concategories" (slides)
17:00–17:30 Sean Tull: "Superpositions and Categorical Quantum Reconstructions" (slides) Benjamin Musto and Jamie Vicary: "Orthogonality for quantum Latin isometry squares" (slides)
17:30–18:00 Aleks Kissinger and John van de Wetering: "PyZX: Quantum circuit optimization using the ZX-calculus" (slides)


Here are some photographs of the event.
Group photo SYCO 2
Corina Cîrstea
Corina Cîrstea
Robin Piedeleu
Robin Piedeleu
Sean Tull
Sean Tull
Martha Lewis
Martha Lewis
Benjamin Dupont
Benjamin Dupont
Sanders Uijlen
Sanders Uijlen
Bruno Gavranović
Bruno Gavranović
Dominic Verdon
Dominic Verdon
Christopher Dean
Christopher Dean
Quanlong Wang
Quanlong Wang
Jens Seeber
Jens Seeber
Paul Blain
Paul Blain Levy
Benjamin Musto
Benjamin Musto


Registrations are still accepted, but we may not be able to provide food and refreshments for you.

Please register by filling in the registration form. There is no registration fee, but please register so that we can order the right amount of catering, and give you a badge. The registration deadline was Sunday 9 December 2018, one week before the meeting.


We are pleased to acknowledge financial support from Cambridge Quantum Computing, SICSA and EPSRC.

Local information

Local organizer. The local organizer is Fredrik Nordvall Forsberg, who can be contacted on the email address Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Venue. The meeting will take place at the University of Strathclyde in room MC301, on the 3rd floor of the McCance Building. There will be signs directing you from the entrance of the building, which is on the north side of the building, on Richmond Street. The University of Strathclyde is in central Glasgow, near all of Glasgow Queen Street train station, Glasgow Central train station, and Buchanan Bus Station. Below are travel instructions from the train stations, the bus station, and from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

The following map shows several key locations (click on the link below the map for a larger picture):

View a larger map. There is also an official university map.

Accommodation. A convenient place to stay is the Glasgow City Centre Premier Inn, literally across the road from the meeting venue. (There are several Premier Inn locations in central Glasgow; the closest one is "George Square", but several others are also within walking distance.) Other decent hotels nearby include the Z Hotel in North Frederick Street and the Brunswick Hotel in Brunswick Street. The perhaps fancier (but untested) Moxy Hotel has also just opened right next to the University of Strathclyde campus. If you want even fancier, there is the five-star Blythswood Square Hotel stillwithin walking distance. At the other end of the scale, the cheapest nearby option is Eurohostel. It is also worth considering using Airbnb.

Trains. See National Rail for trains within the UK. Note that if travelling together with someone, it might be cheaper to get a Two Together railcard (or a 16–25 railcard if you are a (PhD) student). Both Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street Station are within walking distance of the University of Strathclyde (see map above). Trains from London take 4.5 hours. Another option is to travel overnight on the Caledonian Sleeper from London, which arrives in Glasgow just after 7am (so plenty of time to get a nice breakfast before the meeting starts!). If you are arriving from the continent, you can take the Eurostar to London, and then take another train to Glasgow (see The Man in Seat 61 for more information).

Planes. The closest airports are Glasgow International Airport (30 minutes bus connection (bus 500) to George Square), Edinburgh Airport (1 hour bus connection (Citylink Air) to Buchanan Bus Station) and Glasgow Prestwick Airport (40-50 minutes train connection to Glasgow Central).

Car parking. Parking in Glasgow city centre — where the University of Strathclyde is located — is expensive and/or hard to find. It might be possible for us to get a few (free) visitor permits, but there are no guarantees. Please contact Fredrik Nordvall Forsberg if you want to try to get one. Otherwise the cheapest and possibly easiest option is to park and ride.

Getting around Glasgow. The city centre is quite compact, so walking is not a bad idea. Otherwise your options are suburban trains, the subway, bikes for hire, buses or taxis. You will need a separate ticket for each mode of transport.

Internet access. The best way to access the internet at the University of Strathclyde is by using the Eduroam service; you can download a configuration tool for your device here. If you do not have access to Eduroam, you can use the 'WifiGuest' network, which is The Cloud network in disguise.

Child care. If you are interested in child care for the duration of the symposium, please contact Fredrik Nordvall Forsberg.

Things to see and do. Here is a short list.


The intention is for SYCO to be a community meeting, where people have enough time to explain their ideas, and without an unnecessarily competitive atmosphere. To encourage this, in the event that more submissions are received of an acceptable standard than can be accommodated in the timetable, the programme committee may choose to defer some submissions to a future meeting, rather than reject them. This would be done based largely on submission order, giving an incentive for early submission, but would also take into account other requirements, such as ensuring a broad scientific programme. Deferred submissions can then be re-submitted to any future SYCO meeting, where they will be prioritised for inclusion in the programme, and where they will not need to be re-reviewed. Meetings will be held sufficiently frequently to avoid a backlog of deferred papers.


Submission is now closed.

Submissions should present research results in sufficient detail to allow them to be properly considered by members of the programme committee, who will assess their interest to the SYCO community. We encourage the submission of work in progress, as well as mature results. There are no proceedings, so work can be submitted even if it has been previously published, or has been submitted for consideration elsewhere. There is no specific formatting requirement, and no page limit, although for long submissions authors should be aware that reviewers may not be able to read the entire document in detail. Think creatively—you could submit a recent paper, or a draft notes of a project in progress, or even a recent Masters or PhD thesis.

If you made a submission to SYCO 1 which was deferred, it will not automatically be considered for SYCO 2; you still need to submit it again through EasyChair. Such a submission will be prioritised for inclusion in the SYCO 2 programme. When submitting, enter the author and title information as usual into the EasyChair submission form, but in the "abstract" field, just state that it is a deferred submission and give the SYCO 1 submission number. There is no need to attach any documents, but you can if you like, for example if the work has developed since the previous submission; in this case, please give a one-sentence summary in the "Abstract" field of the EasyChair submission form of the way it has changed.

Travel support

The travel support application deadline has now passed.

Some funding is available to cover travel and subsistence costs, with a priority for PhD students and junior researchers. To apply for this funding, please contact the local organizer Fredrik Nordvall Forsberg at with a short statement of your current status, travel costs and funding required. The application deadline is Thursday 29 November, in the week after author notifications.


In total 63 participants (31 students) [61 listed below].

Fatimah Ahmadi, University of Oxford
Malin Altenmüller, University of Strathclyde
Bob Atkey, University of Strathclyde
Corina Cîrstea, University of Southampton
Robin Cockett, University of Calgary
Joseph Collins, University of Strathclyde
Carmen Constantin, University of Oxford
Adriana Correia, Utrecht University
David Dalrymple, Protocol Labs
Christopher Dean, University of Oxford
Antonin Delpeuch, University of Oxford
Elena Di Lavore, University of Oxford
Nuiok Dicaire, University of Edinburgh
Ross Duncan, Cambridge Quantum Computing and University of Strathclyde
Benjamin Dupont, University of Lyon
Jamie Gabbay, Heriot-Watt University
Stuart Gale, University of Strathclyde
Bruno Gavranović, University of Zagreb
Neil Ghani, University of Strathclyde
Giuseppe Greco, Utrecht University
Jules Hedges, University of Oxford
Lukas Heidemann, University of Bonn
Nick Hu, University of Oxford
Mathieu Huot, University of Oxford
Martti Karvonen, University of Edinburgh
Aleks Kissinger, Radboud University Nijmegen
Konstantinos Kogkalidis, Utrecht University
Clemens Kupke, University of Strathclyde
Alasdair Lambert, University of Strathclyde
Paul Blain Levy, University of Birmingham
Martha Lewis, University of Amsterdam
Eliana Lorch, University of Oxford
Zans Mihejevs, Health and Safety Executive
Michael Moortgat, Utrecht University
Dan Mroz, University of Oxford
Benjamin Musto, University of Oxford
Chad Nester, University of Edinburgh
Fredrik Nordvall Forsberg, University of Strathclyde (local organizer)
Simona Paoli, University of Leicester
Robin Piedeleu, University College London
Ben Price, University of Strathclyde
Alex Rice, University of Oxford
Mario Román, University of Oxford
Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh, Queen Mary University of London
Nick Sale, University of Oxford
Philip Scott, University of Ottawa
Jens Seeber, IMT Lucca
Pawel Sobocinski, University of Southampton
Priyaa Varshinee Srinivasan, University of Calgary
Calin Tataru, University of Oxford
Sean Tull, University of Oxford
Sander Uijlen, University of Oxford
Adrien Vakili, University of Copenhagen
Niccolò Veltri, IT University of Copenhagen
Dominic Verdon, University of Bristol
Jamie Vicary, University of Birmingham and University of Oxford
Quanlong Wang, University of Oxford
Gijs Wijnholds, Queen Mary University of London
Paul Wilson, University of Southampton
James Wood, University of Strathclyde
Stefan Zetzsche, University College London
John van de Wetering, Radboud University Nijmegen

Programme committee

Steering committee

The symposium is managed by the following people. If you have a general question about SYCO, or if you want to propose to host a future version, please get in touch with a member of the steering committee.