[Haskell-cafe] why the name lambda calculus?
dot at dotat.at
Mon Aug 22 17:09:34 CEST 2011
KC <kc1956 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Lambda abstraction was probably chosen in case someone found better
> abstractions; e.g. epsilon, delta, gamma, beta, alpha, ... :)
By the way, why did Church choose the notation "λ"? In [an unpublished
letter to Harald Dickson, Church] stated clearly that it came from the
notation "x̂" used for class-abstraction by Whitehead and Russell, by first
modifying "x̂" to "∧ x" to distinguish functionabstraction from
class-abstraction, and then changing "∧ " to "λ" for ease of printing.
This origin was also reported in [Rosser. Highlights of the history of the
lambda calculus. Annals of the History of Computing]. On the other hand,
in his later years Church told two enquirers that the choice was more
accidental: a symbol was needed and "λ" just happened to be chosen.)
f.anthony.n.finch <dot at dotat.at> http://dotat.at/
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