Categorification is the process of finding category-theoretic analogs of set-theoretic concepts by replacing sets with categories, functions with functors, and equations between functions by natural isomorphisms between functors, which in turn should satisfy certain equations of their own, called `coherence laws'. Iterating this process requires a theory of `n-categories', algebraic structures having objects, morphisms between objects, 2-morphisms between morphisms and so on up to n-morphisms. After a brief introduction to n-categories and their relation to homotopy theory, we discuss algebraic structures that can be seen as iterated categorifications of the natural numbers and integers. These include tangle n-categories, cobordism n-categories, and the homotopy n-types of the loop spaces Omega^k S^k. We conclude by describing a definition of weak n-categories based on the theory of operads.

Published in 1998.