Y combinator

1 minute read


In the previous post I wrote about Metacircular Evaluator - list interpeter that is written in lisp. Now I will give a short description of the Curry’s Paradoxical Combinator. It will help to comprehend the idea that a thing can be described in terms of itself.

Haskell Brooks Curry was an American mathematician. He was so cool that there are three programming languages named after him, Haskell, Brook and Curry. By the way, I can’t find time to learn Haskell. I heard that when you know Haskell, your life is complete and you can die peacefully.

Another awesome thing that he created was Curry’s Paradoxical Combinator, aka Y combinator, aka WTF combinator (by the people who try to understand it).

Y = (lambda (f)
      ((lambda (x) (f (x x)))
       (lambda (x) (f (x x))))

(Y F) = ((lambda (x) (F (x x)))
         (lambda (x) (F (x x))))

      = (F ((lambda (x) (F (x x))) (lambda (x) (F x x))))

(Y F) = (F (Y F))

Y is higher order function which, when applied to some function, produces the object which is the fixed point of that function.

A fixed point of a function is an element of the function’s domain that is mapped to itself by the function.

f(x0) = x0

So Lisp is a fixed point of the of the Metacircular Evaluator. explosion