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An Introduction to Functional Programming Through Lambda Calculus Paperback – Jul 21 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (Aug. 18 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486478831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486478838
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Gregory Michaelson is a Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James on May 29 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good resource for those studying functional programming and wanting to understand the theory behind it. This book does a great job of building up the concepts in small, digestible pieces.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A great resource for understanding lambda calculus March 23 2012
By Norman Richards - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the first half of this book on lambda calculus to be really helpful. The explanations and problems (solutions provided) made it easy to follow. As the book progresses, the author slowly transforms lambda calculus notation into something resembling ML. At first I was less interested in the "introduction to functional programming" part than the "through lambda calculus" part, so I didn't get as much value from the later chapters initially. Later, when I was learning SML, the value of the latter chapters came through. However, even if your only goal is the same as mine was, to gain an understanding of lambda calculus, I still highly recommend this book. It's the best introduction I've found so far
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Gentlest Possible introduction to Lambda Calculus March 17 2009
By wooks - Published on
Format: Paperback
Very easy to understand. Has the added bonus of solutions to all the questions. Unlike Hankins book you really can teach yourself Lambda Calculus with this. If you see a copy available grab it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Hard to start, but hard to put down. June 28 2014
By Ryan McNamara - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been trying to dive into functional programming, so I bought this book. The first chapter or so was a bit off in my opinion. The author should have covered why lambda calculus was invented and done a better job of giving a general overview. However, after looking up a few things online and getting a handle on it, this turned out to be a really amazing book. The author essentially teaches you how to build an entire programming language from first principles. It's quite a journey, actually. And in the process you actually understand how functional programming works. Knowing only beginner python I was able to follow along quite easily and if anything the author went into too much detail. So I found the pacing to be wonderful and because you understand everything that went on previously, the next part really isn't much of a leap. Many confusing functional programming peculiarities like partially applied functions, prefix notation, it's heavy use of recursion (and how it is applied) is a piece of cake. The book concludes with looking at two real programming languages, both of which are still extremely relevant today, and comparing it to the stuff we've been inventing with lambda calculus. The two example languages are Standard ML (which Haskell is largely derived from, for instance) and Common Lisp (which is the other major functional family of languages around today if you ignore prolog).

So even though this is an old book, there's not a whole lot about it that's dated. If anything, it's dated in a very good way: it doesn't use academic language or assume you know a lot of programming concepts (many of which hadn't even been invented, so maybe that's part of it) or anything like that. It's easy to follow along with and lambda calculus is actually kind of fun. It's such a trivially simple method of calculating, but with thought you can create some very high-level math and programming ideas and see how they play out.

By the way, no math knowledge is required to understand this book. Honestly, all you really need to know is the basic concept of addition and multiplication since the author will be implementing addition and multiplication functions. Other than that, there's no reason an absolute beginning to math or programming couldn't pick up this book. You might have to read the second chapter a second time after you get the hang of it.

I want to give it five stars, but it was hard getting going like I mentioned. However, you can easily overcome that by finding and introductory article online or something. Nothing's perfect, but I'm very glad I bought this book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Must-Read For Every Self-Respecting Software Developer Jan. 15 2014
By Alexander 'Knight' - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Functional Programming (FP) is emerging as a mainstream paradigm for software developers. There are many great books out there that teach you functional programming, but largely neglect the theoretical/mathematical underpinnings. This language-agnostic book fills the gap with regards to the hows-and-whys and origins of functional programming. Apart from being extremely easy to understand and being fairly rigorous for an introductory-level book, this book also outlines the meanings and origins of some of the traditional terms and notations associated with functional programming, such as "consing". It wasn't until I read this book that I felt a sense of enlightenment as to the value of Functional Programming. Without a question, I have emerged as a much better software developer after reading this book.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Best way to get started in functional programming June 3 2014
By Shaun Lippy - Published on
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, the best way to get started with functional programming is to wrap your brain around the lambda calculus, which is the genesis of the whole paradigm. I dug around in Haskell, Scala, and Lisp/Scheme/Clojure for a bit. not really fully grasping why things were done the way they were in those languages. Resolving to get a more theoretical background in the math, I found this book. If you read the book carefully, work out the examples on your own, and do most of the exercises, you will have a very good foundation in the math behind functional programming. Since reading the text, I've gone back to Haskell and the lightbulbs go off regularly for me now where there was only confused darkness before. Read the book, do the exercises - then go back to your FP language of choice and you, too, will "get it" on a deeper level than you did before.