Simply Typed Lambda Caclulus (for) Kotlin is an extensbile implementation of the Simply Typed Lambda Calculus in Kotlin implemented with object algebras, and support for kotlinx.serialization.

What is it?

The Simply Typed Lambda Calculus (STLC) can be seen as a small, statically typed, total functional programming language. Essentially all it provides is operations for building annonmyous functions (lambda abstraction), and applying them (function application). It being total means that it has the property that all functions written in the language will eventually terminate. In other words, there are no infinite loops! The STLC is definitely not a Turing Complete language, and that’s a good thing!

The STLC on it’s own is not incredibly useful — but if you add to it a fixed set of operations/functions, what you get is a domain-specific language that can be executed in a sandboxed environment, as well as be easily serialized/deserialized. Thus, STLK makes building a plugin architecture based on safe, sandboxed DSLs easy, no matter the Kotlin target used! Not to mention — no mucking around with classloaders, dynamic libs and the like.

NOTE: STLK is currently in an experimental stage of development. The documentation here is just a peek at what the library might look like when more fully fleshed out to help me sketch out some ideas and a vision for the project.

What can I do with it?

What can’t you do with it? The possibilities are endless!

Serialize and deserialize functions.

Ever wish you could serialize mathematical functions like { x -> x * 2 + 3 } without a lot of ceremony? Say no more:

fun <F> AirthAlg<F>.someFunction(): Apply<F, (Int) -> Int> =
    func { x -> x + 42 }
Json.encodeToString (

Not limited to pure functions

TODO: No need to limit yourself to the pure functions though. Object algebras are just simple, lightweight, modular interpreters built by implementing Kotlin interfaces — so interpret them however you want!

interface TerminalAlg<F> {
    fun readLine(): Apply<F, String>
    fun printLine(message: String): Apply<F, Unit> 

Mix and Match

Thanks to the flexibility of the object algebra encoding, you can mix and match “algebras” (kind of like modules for building up a domain specific language) at will with interface subtyping!

interface MyDSLAlg<F>: ArithAlg<F>, StrManipAlg<F>, ConditionalAlg<F>, LocationServiceAlg<F>, GeomAlg<F> {
    fun Apply<F, User>.getUserLocation(): Pair<Double, Double>
    fun Apply<F, String>.notifyUser()

fun <F> MyDSLAlg<F>.pluggableLogic(): Apply<F, Unit> {
    // From MySDLAlg
    val userLocation: Pair<Double, Double> = getUserLocation()
    // From LocationServiceAlg
    val userHome: Geometry = getUserHomeBubble() 
    // From GeomAlg
    val userIsHome = userLocation.isIn(userHome)
    // From ConditonalAlg
        if_ = userIsHome,
        // From StrManipAlg and MyDSLAlg
        then = str("You are home").notifyUser(),
        else = str("You are not home").notifyUser()

GraphQL… Who needs it?

interface MyApiAlg<F>: ListOperationsAlg<F> {
    fun users(): Apply<F, List<User>>
    fun Apply<F, String>
    fun User.age(): Apply<F, Int>

fun <F> MyApiAlg<F>.userAgesQuery(): Apply<F, List<Int>> { { user ->

// Encode and decode complex queries easily.
val encoded = Json.encodeToString(

val rawExpr = Json.decodeFromString<RawExpr>(encoded)
val parsed: Either<DecodingError, MyApiQuery<List<Int>> 
    = MyApiAlg.parseRawExpr<MyApi, List<Int>>(rawExpr) 

How does it work?

Object Algebras

The idea behind the basic object algebra pattern is instead of defining a class with multiple variants as a sealed class such as:

sealed class MyClass {
    data class VariantOne(val x: Int): MyClass()
    data class VariantTwo(val y: String): MyClass()

you instead define an interface which corresponds to how one would build a generic interpreter of such a class consisting of multiple variants. We call these interfaces for this type of interpreter algebras, which customarialy have an Alg suffix.

interface MyClassAlg<A> {
    fun variantOne(x: Int): A
    fun variantTwo(y: String): A

“Instances” of this “class” are not constructed directly, but are viewed as generic functions using such an interpreter. For instance:

fun <A> MyClassAlg<A>.someMyClass(): A = 
fun <A> MyClassAlg<A>.someOtherMyClass(): A =
    variantTwo("Hello, object algebras")

Why bother taking this roundabout way of thinking of classes with variants? Extensibility. Interfaces are incredibly easy and ergonomic to compose in object-oriented languages. If we wanted to write some code using (say) a third variant holding on to a Double to our existing MyClass without changing MyClass itself, this would not be very straightforward or ergonomic. However, using our “object algebras” approach, we can simply do:

interface MyNewClassAlg<A> : MyClassAlg<A> {
    fun variantThree(z: Double): A

We can also just as easily model recursive classes with variants — for instance, abstract syntax trees for a simple expression language:

interface IntExprAlg<A> {
    fun intLit(x: Int): A
    operator fun A): A
    operator fun A.times(other: A): A
    operator fun A.minus(other: A): A

Higher-kinded Types

The issue with the above approach we explored for building a small expression language for integer arithmetic is that it is limitied to integers. What if we also wanted to add strings to our language? What about booleans and conditionals? One thing we could try is adding multiple generic parameters — giving what might be called polyadic object algebras, borrowing some more mathematical terminology, which might look something like:

interface MultiTypeAlg<A, B> {
    fun int(x: Int): A
    fun bool(x: Bool): B
    operator fun A): A
    inline fun B.and(other: B): B

However, this approach quickly becomes infeasible as the number of types grow. Furthermore, it might even be impossible if (for instance) we wanted to bring type-constructors like List into the mix, and allow for functions like map and fold to be included in our DSL.

Essentially what we really need here is a type-level function so we can still control the result type of our interpreters, while still allowing for that result type to vary rather than being constant. For instance, if we call our type-level function F, that would make the above example:

interface MultiTypeAlg<F> {
    fun int(x: Int): F<Int>
    fun bool(x: Bool): F<Bool>
    operator fun F<Int>.plus(other: F<Int>): F<Int>
    inline fun F<Bool>.and(other: F<Bool>): F<Bool>

If F<X> = X, we get just a standard interpreter for a language with multiple possible types. If F<X> is just some fixed class for all X, we can build the same kind of “alternative” interpreters we saw before, like “interpreting” expressionbs into strings.


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