Lambda Calculus Explained

8 days ago   •   2 min read

By Nerd Clump, Arjun,

Table of contents

Get ready for Lambda Calculus

We're assuming you never heard about it in your life. And that is totally normal because there is very little information on the internet about this stuff.

If you are just a beginner in lambda calculus and had experience in programming, then You are in the right place.

What is Lambda Calculus?

Lambda(λ) Calculus can be called the smallest universal programming language in the world, and it's not an object-oriented programming language.

The main use of λ-calculus is in the field of mathematics, it is a mathematical model for understanding computation based on function abstraction and application using variable binding(when the compiler assigns a variable) and substitution(assigning a new value of an entity).

It is a universal model of computation that can be used to simulate any Turing Machine(changes according to assigned rules).

You can read What is a model of the lambda calculus? by Albert R.Meyer

Who developed Lambda Calculus?

It was developed by Alonzo Church (American mathematician and logician)  in the 1930s to study computations with functions.

Why it is called Lambda?

Lambda(λ) is derived from the Greek language and lambda means binding(assigning a variable to an entity).

3 Rules of Lambda Calculus

These are the following rules:-

Syntax Name Description
x Variable A character or string representing a parameter or mathematical/logical value.
(λx.M) Abstraction A Function definition (M is a lambda term). The variable x becomes bound in the expression.
(M N) Application Applying A function to an argument. M and N are lambda terms.

You can checkout λ Calculus Interpreter by Lian Gong

Topics in Lambda Calculus

And if you want to continue lambda calculus and know more about it we really recommend the book An Introduction to Functional Programming Through Lambda Calculus by Greg Michaelson


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