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Church integer

A representation of integers as functions invented by Alonzo Church, inventor of lambda-calculus. The integer N is represented as a higher-order function which applies a given function N times to a given expression. In the pure lambda-calculus there are no constants but numbers can be represented by Church integers.

A Haskell function to return a given Church integer could be written:

		church n = c
			   where
			   c f x = if n == 0 then x else c' f (f x)
				   where
				   c' = church (n-1)


A function to turn a Church integer into an ordinary integer:

		unchurch c = c (+1) 0


See also von Neumann integer.

(1994-11-29)


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