Lambda Calculus And Its Role In Computer Science

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of mathematical method of manipulating computer code similar to how one does Algebra? In most cases this would be really impractical but interesting nonetheless, especially if it could be mapped into an actual computer language.

Lambda Calculus can fill this role, of providing an algebra-like system for manipulating computer code. It expresses computation through the use of anonymous functions which can sort of be mapped into computer languages to some extent. Notably, LISP is similar to Lambda Calculus and has drawn some attributes from Lambda Calculus.

LISP is one of the oldest high-level programming languages still in use today. It was original designed as a sort of mathematical notation system for computer programs, influenced by Lambda Calculus. In the past, it had been frequently used in areas such as artificial intelligence research, data structures, and automatic storage management systems. The two most common modern dialects of LISP are Common LISP and Scheme.

Lambda Calculus provides a crucial fundamental concept within computer science and mathematics because of its powers of providing simple methods of computation with functions which can loosely be translated into actual computer programming language functions. It has played an enormous role in the early theoretical development of programming languages and provided the original inspiration for functional programming.

Interested in learning more about LISP and Lambda Calculus? Check out these resources:

Written on November 2, 2010