Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 319-332

First online:

State-transition machines for lambda-calculus expressions

  • David A. SchmidtAffiliated withComputer Science Department, Aarhus University Email author 

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The process of compiler generation from lambda-calculus definitions is studied. The compiling schemes developed utilize as their object language the set of state transition machines (STMs): automata-like transition sets using first-order arguments. An intermediate definition form, the STM-interpreter, is treated as central to the formulation of STMs. Three compiling schemes are presented: one derived directly from an STM-interpreter for the lambda-calculus; one formulated from an STM-interpreter variant of Landin’s SECD-machine; and one defined through meaning-preserving transformations upon a denotational definition of the lambda-calculus. The results are compared and some tentative conclusions are made regarding the utility of compiler generation with the STM forms.


Lambda calculus State transition machine SECD-machine Weak-normal form Defunctionalization Continuations Denotational semantics