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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
delta reduction
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theory In lambda-calculus extended with constants, delta
reduction replaces a function applied to the required number
of arguments (a redex) by a result. E.g. plus 2 3 --@# 5.
In contrast with beta reduction (the only kind of reduction
in the pure lambda-calculus) the result is not formed simply
by textual substitution of arguments into the body of a
function. Instead, a delta redex is matched against the left
hand side of all delta rules and is replaced by the right hand
side of the (first) matching rule. There is notionally one
delta rule for each possible combination of function and
arguments. Where this implies an infinite number of rules,
the result is usually defined by reference to some external
system such as mathematical addition or the hardware
operations of some computer. For other types, all rules can
be given explicitly, for example Boolean negation: