The Perl Language and the Lambda Calculus

Mark-Jason Dominus

Alternate title: "Perl is a superset of the lambda-calculus, or how to write a 163 line program to compute 1+1."

Although an interpreter for the lambda-calculus can be implemented in almost any modern programming language, it is easier in some languages than in others. For example, a parser and evaluator for lambda-expressions is built into most Lisp systems, with the 'lambda' special form constructing lambda-expressions, and function application form applying them.

It may come as a surprise that the popular programming language Perl also has the lambda-calculus built into it in the same way. This talk will explain the usefulness of the lambda-calculus to computer scientists (no prior knowledge of it is required), show its effectiveness as a model for computation, and then demonstrate a Perl program that performs computations with recursive functions using nothing more than function abstraction and application.

Mark-Jason Dominus is a well-known expert in the Perl world. He is a regular columnist for the Perl Journal, and has written articles on automatic memoization, ray tracing, infinite data structures, and pattern matching. He is a software consultant, a Perl trainer, and a lecturer on system and network security, web application development, and Perl wizardry. He lives in Philadelphia. Mark-Jason's Web page on Perl is

Date: Thursday, November 18, 1999, 8:00 pm
Location: Auditorium, Sarnoff Corporation, 201 Washington Road (Rt 571 1/4 mile south of US 1), Princeton, NJ

Additional Information: recorded info (609) 924-8704, Dennis Mancl (908) 582-7086, or David Soll (215) 854-3461

A pre-meeting dinner with the speaker is held at 6 p.m. at the Rusty Scupper on Alexander Road in Princeton. If you would like to attend, please call the information number to record your reservation on the answering machine.

Princeton ACM / IEEE Computer Society meeting are open to the public. Students and their parents are welcome. There is no admission charge, and refreshments are served.