# Y combinator

By Carl Zimmer | February 17, 2008 8:28 am

“I don’t quite have a science tattoo, but I have a math tattoo. That’s close enough, right?”Now, for the explanation. This is a formula called the Y Combinator. It is a fixed-point combinator in the lambda calculus and was discovered by Haskell Curry, a rather prolific mathematician and logician whose work helped start Computer Science.

“What this formula does is calculates the fixed point of a function, which in turn allows for recursion by calling on that fixed point; recursion is perhaps the single most important concept in Computer Science. Being a computer scientist and a mathematician, this formula is very important to me and represents the innate beauty of computer science and mathematical logic.” –Mark

[Note from Carl: Math is most welcome at the Emporium]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

1. Being a student of CS and the Maths, I value this tattoo- excellent choice. Your thoughts on recursion has brought me to another chapter in my science tattoo quest as it indeed is so very important… There’s a tat flying around here of the Fibonacci Sequence in Scheme, which I thought was also cool since we know that it also represents recursion.

Cheers

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A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.