[plt-scheme] Re: Why "lambda"?

From: Marco Morazan (morazanm at gmail.com)
Date: Sat May 30 21:38:49 EDT 2009

> (and he sets alot of them), and that some of the problems might appear
> to stretch the student beyond the material he has learnt, but then I
> self-taught with the book and thats where a lecturer would step in.

Ok, I guess I will chime in at this point. I feel rather uncomfortable
with the notion that using alpha and beta are more complex than using
A and B. Frankly, we can use two different squiggly lines as far as I
am concerned. The simple fact is that the use of a variable is a form
of (low-level) abstraction. Who cares if the symbol used for the
variable representing the abstraction is latin, greek, russian, or
mayan? If you understand the abstraction it does not matter, period.

Why use greek? Well, it is that little thing called convention very
much like English is a convention. When I read a paper and see, for
example, alpha-conversion or beta-reduction my focus is not on the
alpha or the beta. It is on the abstraction that is being represented.
That said, I agree that it is important to explain and understand the
abstractions. Nobody understands or fails to understand what
alpha-conversion and beta-reduction due to the alpha and the beta.

Finally, it is imperative that we push/stretch students beyond what
they perceive they have learned. They need to know that they can do
more with what they have learned. Sometimes it is hard, but
tribulation builds character and that leads to progress. As Shriram
has stated, I also have many students who have come back years later
to say thank you. Believe it or not some of us may actually be good at
what we do.

No hard feelings, just, perhaps, a little tough love like I tell my
students. :-)




Posted on the users mailing list.