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# Chapter 2: Lambda Calculus

## Programming Distributed Computing Systems: A

Foundational Approach
Carlos Varela
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Mathematical Functions
Take the mathematical function:
f(x) = x2
f is a function that maps integers to integers:
Function
Function

f: Z Z
Domain
Domain

Range
Range

## We apply the function f to numbers in its domain to obtain a number

in its range, e.g.:
f(-2) = 4
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Function Composition
Given the mathematical functions:
f(x) = x2 , g(x) = x+1
f g is the composition of f and g:
f g (x) = f(g(x))
f g (x) = f(g(x)) = f(x+1) = (x+1) 2 = x2 + 2x + 1
g f (x) = g(f(x)) = g(x2) = x2 + 1
Function composition is therefore not commutative. Function
composition can be regarded as a (higher-order) function with the
following type:
: (Z Z) x (Z Z) (Z Z)
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## Lambda Calculus (Church and Kleene 1930s)

A unified language to manipulate and reason about functions.
Given
f(x) = x2

x. x2
represents the same f function, except it is anonymous.
To represent the function evaluation f(2) = 4,
we use the following -calculus syntax:
( x. x2 2) 22 4

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## Lambda Calculus Syntax and Semantics

The syntax of a -calculus expression is as follows:
e

::=
|
|

v
v.e
(e e)

variable
functional abstraction
function application

## The semantics of a -calculus expression is as follows:

( x.E M) E{M/x}
where we alpha-rename the lambda abstraction E if necessary to
avoid capturing free variables in M.

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Currying
The lambda calculus can only represent functions of one variable.
It turns out that one-variable functions are sufficient to represent
multiple-variable functions, using a strategy called currying.
E.g., given the mathematical function:
of type

h(x,y) = x+y
h: Z x Z Z

## We can represent h as h of type:

h: Z Z Z
Such that
h(x,y) = h(x)(y) = x+y
For example,
h(2) = g, where g(y) = 2+y
We say that h is the curried version of h.
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## Function Composition in Lambda Calculus

S:
I:

x.x2
x.x+1

(Square)
(Increment)

C:
f. g. x.(f (g x))
Composition)

(Function
Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:
((C S) I)

((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}

## (( f. g. x.(f (g x)) x.x2) x.x+1)

( g. x.( x.x2 (g x)) x.x+1)
x.( x.x2 ( x.x+1 x))
x.( x.x2 x+1)
x.x+12
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## Free and Bound Variables

The lambda functional abstraction is the only syntactic construct
that binds variables. That is, in an expression of the form:

v.e
we say that free occurrences of variable v in expression e are bound.
All other variable occurrences are said to be free.
E.g.,
( x. y.(x y) (y w))
Bound
BoundVariables
Variables
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Free
Free
Variables
Variables
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-renaming
Alpha renaming is used to prevent capturing free occurrences of
variables when reducing a lambda calculus expression, e.g.,
( x. y.(x y) (y w))
y.((y w) y)
This reduction erroneously captures the free occurrence of y.
A correct reduction first renames y to z, (or any other fresh variable)
e.g.,
( x. y.(x y) (y w))
( x. z.(x z) (y w))
z.((y w) z)
where y remains free.
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## Order of Evaluation in the Lambda Calculus

Does the order of evaluation change the final result?
Consider:
Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:
2
x.( x.x ( x.x+1 x))
((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}
There are two possible evaluation orders:

and:

x.( x.x2 x+1)
x.x+12

Applicative
Applicative
Order
Order

x.( x.x+1 x)2
x.x+12

Normal
Normal
Order
Order

## Is the final result always the same?

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Church-Rosser Theorem
If a lambda calculus expression can be evaluated in two different
ways and both ways terminate, both ways will yield the same result.
e
e1

e2
e

## Also called the diamond or confluence property.

Furthermore, if there is a way for an expression evaluation to
terminate, using normal order will cause termination.
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Consider:

Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:

## There are two possible evaluation orders:

( x.y ( x.(x x) x.(x x)))
( x.y ( x.(x x) x.(x x)))
and:

y

((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}
Applicative
Applicative
Order
Order

Normal
Normal
Order
Order

## In this example, normal order terminates whereas applicative order

does not.
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Combinators
A lambda calculus expression with no free variables is called a
combinator. For example:
I:
App:
C:
L:
Cur:
Seq:
ASeq:

x.x
(Identity)
f. x.(f x)
(Application)
f. g. x.(f (g x))
(Composition)
( x.(x x) x.(x x))
(Loop)
f. x. y.((f x) y)
(Currying)
x. y.( z.y x)
(Sequencing--normal order)
x. y.(y x)
(Sequencing--applicative order)
where y denotes a thunk, i.e., a lambda abstraction
wrapping the second expression to evaluate.

its context.
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## Combinators in Functional Programming

Languages
Most functional programming languages have a syntactic form for
lambda abstractions. For example the identity combinator:

x.x
can be written in Oz as follows:

fun {\$ X} X end
and it can be written in Scheme as follows:

(lambda(x) x)

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Currying Combinator in Oz
The currying combinator can be written in Oz as follows:

fun {\$ F}
fun {\$ X}
fun {\$ Y}
{F X Y}
end
end
end
It takes a function of two arguments, F, and returns its curried
version, e.g.,
{{{Curry Plus} 2} 3} 5
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and Termination
Consider:

Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:

## There are two possible evaluation orders:

( x.y ( x.(x x) x.(x x)))
( x.y ( x.(x x) x.(x x)))
and:

y

((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}
Applicative
Applicative
Order
Order

Normal
Normal
Order
Order

## In this example, normal order terminates whereas applicative order

does not.
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-renaming
Alpha renaming is used to prevent capturing free occurrences of
variables when beta-reducing a lambda calculus expression.
In the following, we rename x to z, (or any other fresh variable):
( x.(y x) x)
( z.(y z) x)
Only bound variables can be renamed. No free variables can be
captured (become bound) in the process. For example, we cannot
alpha-rename x to y.

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-reduction
( x.E M)

E{M/x}

## Beta-reduction may require alpha renaming to prevent capturing

free variable occurrences. For example:
( x. y.(x y) (y w))
( x. z.(x z) (y w))

z.((y w) z)
Where the free y remains free.

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-conversion
x.(E x)

if x is not free in E.
For example:

( x. y.(x y) (y w))
( x. z.(x z) (y w))

z.((y w) z)
(y w)

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## Recursion Combinator (Y or rec)

Suppose we want to express a factorial function in the calculus.
1

n=0

n*(n-1)!

n>0

f(n) = n! =
We may try to write it as:
f:

n.(if (= n 0)
1
(* n (f (- n 1))))

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## Recursion Combinator (Y or rec)

We may try to pass f as an argument (g) as follows:
f:

g. n.(if (= n 0)
1
(* n (g (- n 1))))

## The type of f is:

f: (Z Z) (Z Z)
So, what argument g can we pass to f to get the factorial function?

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## Recursion Combinator (Y or rec)

f: (Z Z) (Z Z)
(f f) is not well-typed.
(f I) corresponds to:
1

n=0

n*(n-1)

n>0

f(n) =
We need to solve the fixpoint equation:
(f X) = X

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## Recursion Combinator (Y or rec)

(f X) = X
The X that solves this equation is the following:
( x.( g. n.(if (= n 0)
1
(* n (g (- n 1))))
y.((x x) y))
x.( g. n.(if (= n 0)
1
(* n (g (- n 1))))
y.((x x) y)))

X:

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## Recursion Combinator (Y or rec)

X can be defined as (Y f), where Y is the recursion combinator.
Y:
f.( x.(f y.((x x) y))
x.(f y.((x x) y)))

Applicative
Applicative
Order
Order

Y:
f.( x.(f (x x))
x.(f (x x)))

Normal
Normal
Order
Order

You get from the normal order to the applicative order recursion
combinator by -expansion (-conversion from right to left).

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|0|:
|1|:

|n+1|:

x.x
x. x.x

(One)

x.|n|

(N+1)

s:

n. x.n

(Successor)

(Zero)

(s 0)
( n. x.n x.x)

Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:
((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}

x. x.x

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## Booleans and Branching (if) in Calculus

|true|:
|false|:

x. y.x
x. y.y

(False)

|if|:

b. t. e.((b t) e)

(If)

(True)

Recall
Recallsemantics
semanticsrule:
rule:
(((if true) a) b)

((x.E
x.EM)
M)
E{M/x}
E{M/x}

## ((( b. t. e.((b t) e) x. y.x) a) b)

(( t. e.(( x. y.x t) e) a) b)
( e.(( x. y.x a) e) b)
(( x. y.x a) b)
( y.a b)
a
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Exercises

## 20. PDCS Exercise 2.11.1 (page 31).

21. PDCS Exercise 2.11.2 (page 31).
22. PDCS Exercise 2.11.5 (page 31).
23. PDCS Exercise 2.11.6 (page 31).

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Exercises
24.PDCS Exercise 2.11.7 (page 31).
25.PDCS Exercise 2.11.9 (page 31).
26.PDCS Exercise 2.11.10 (page 31).