Lambda.js are string based lambdas for Node.js and the browser, that allow strings such as 'x 1' and 'x -> x 1' to be used as functions.


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What is it?

Lambda.js are string based lambdas for Node.js and the browser, that allow strings such as 'x+1' and 'x -> x+1' to be used as functions.


This is a spin-off project of Functional's (a library for functional programming in JavaScript) to-function.js by Oliver Steele.

Most of the source code and documentation is written by Oliver Steele and contributers, so all credit goes to them. This project is just here to avoid using the full library when only lambdas are needed (they play very well with JavaScript 1.6's every(), filter(), forEach() etc). It also detaches the lambda function from String.prototype to avoid cluttering it with non-standard functions.


The only exported function is lambda(expression) which takes the "string based lambda" as argument and turns that expression into a Function that returns the value of the expression:

var square = lambda('x*x');

/*  =>
    function anonymous(x) {
        return x * x;

If the string contains a ->, this separates the parameters from the body:

lambda('x -> x + 1')(1); // => 2

lambda('x y -> x + 2*y')(1, 2); // => 5

lambda('x, y -> x + 2*y')(1, 2); // => 5

Otherwise, if the string contains a _, this is the only parameter:

lambda('_ + 1')(1); // => 2

If the string begins or ends with an operator or relation, prepend or append a parameter (The documentation refers to this type of string as a section):

lambda('/2')(4); // => 2

lambda('2/')(4); // => 0.5

lambda('/')(2, 4); // => 0.5

Sections can end, but not begin with, -. (This is to avoid interpreting e.g. -2*x as a section). On the other hand, a string that either begins or ends with / is a section, so an expression that begins or ends with a regular expression literal needs an explicit parameter.

Otherwise, each variable name is an implicit parameter:

lambda('x + 1')(1); // => 2

lambda('x + 2*y')(1, 2); // => 5

lambda('y + 2*x')(1, 2); // => 5

Implicit parameter detection ignores strings literals, variable names that start with capitals and identifiers that precede : or follow .:

['probable', 'possible'].map(lambda('"im" + root')); // => ["improbable", "impossible"]

lambda('Math.cos(angle)')(Math.PI); // => -1

lambda('point.x')({x:1, y:2}); // => 1

lambda('({x:1, y:2})[key]')('x'); // => 1

Implicit parameter detection mistakenly looks inside regular expression literals for variable names. It also doesn't know to ignore JavaScript keywords and bound variables. (The only way you can get these last two is with a function literal inside the string. This is outside the intended use case for string lambdas.)

Use _ (to define a unary function) or ->, if the string contains anything that looks like a free variable but shouldn't be used as a parameter, or to specify parameters that are ordered differently from their first occurrence in the string.

Chain ->s to create a function in uncurried form:

lambda('x -> y -> x + 2*y')(1)(2); // => 5

lambda('x -> y -> z -> x + 2*y+3*z')(1)(2)(3) // => 14