LISP and Symbolic Computation

, Volume 6, Issue 3–4, pp 259–287 | Cite as

Lambda-calculus schemata

  • Michael J. Fischer


A lambda-calculus schema is an expression of the lambda calculus augmented by uninterpreted constant and operator symbols. It is an abstraction of programming languages such as LISP which permit functions to be passed to and returned from other functions. When given an interpretation for its constant and operator symbols, certain schemata, calledlambda abstractions, naturally define partial functions over the domain of interpretation. Two implementation strategies are considered: the retention strategy in which all variable bindings are retained until no longer needed (implying the use of some sort of garbage-collected store) and the deletion strategy, modeled after the usual stack implementation of ALGOL 60, in which variable bindings are destroyed when control leaves the procedure (or block) in which they were created. Not all lambda abstractions evaluate correctly under the deletion strategy. Nevertheless, both strategies are equally powerful in the sense that any lambda abstraction can be mechanically translated into another that evaluates correctly under the deletion strategy and defines the same partial function over the domain of interpretation as the original. Proof is by translation into continuation-passing style.


Lambda Calculus LISP Continuation-Passing Style Closures Functional Objects Retention Strategy Deletion Strategy Bindings Stack 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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