Category Archives: chemlambda

Small graph rewrite systems (3)

Previous posts on the same subject are (1) (2). Related is this post.

In this post I update the small rewrite system SH-2.1 to SH-2.2.  If you look at SH-2.1, it has 3 rewrites: SH, GL and RM.

None of these rewrites allow two “sticks” to merge or one stick to transform into a ring.

Compare with the interaction combinators inspired IC-2.1, with the rewrites DIST, RW1 and RW2. Is true, that system is too reactive, but it has one rewrite, namely RW2, which allows two sticks to merge.

A rewrite which has this property (sticks merge) is essential for computational purposes. The most famous of such rewrites is the BETA rewrite in lambda calculus, or the \gamma \gamma and the \delta \delta rewrites from interaction combinators:


(figure from Lafont article).

In the oriented sticks and rings version of chemlambda we have the rewrites BETA (or A-L) and FI-FOE, with the same property.



We shall modify therefore one of the rewrites from SH-2.1.

The SH-2.2 system

We keep the rewrites SH and GL from the SH-2.1 system:




and we replace the rewrite RM with the new rewrite R2:


The new rewrite R2 needs a ring!

Let’s show that SH-2.2 is better than SH-2.1. All we need is to be able to do the rewrite RM from SH-2.1 in SH-2.2. Here is it.


Mind that the ring from the upper right graph is not the same as the ring from the bottom graph. Indeed, in the rewrite R2 the ring from the bottom is consumed and  a new ring appears from the merging of the ends of the stick with two blue nodes which sits on the top of the other stick with two yellow ends from the bottom graph.

Compared with the original RM rewrite


we have an extra ring at the left and at the right of the rewrite RM, as it appears in SH-2.2. Otherwise said the ring plays the role of an enzyme.






Data, channels, contracts, rewrites and coins

We can think about all these in terms of dimension.

Data are  like points, 0 dimensional.

Channels (of communication) are 1-dimensional. They are the fundamental bricks of IT. They are not enough, though.

Contracts are 2-dimensional. A contract is an algorithm over channels.

As an example, here’s how we can turn a graph rewrite system in the  sticks and rings version  into a contract-like one.

For the (oriented) sticks and rings version of chemlambda see this. Two small rewrite systems involving non-oriented sticks are described here  and there.

The closest algorithm relevant for this post is the one from needs.  I shall mention in ths post names from there, like  “succ”, “ccus”, “gamma” and “ammag”.

We can descrine a sticks and rings graph with two invertible functions. Each node of a trivalent graph is decomposed as two half-nodes. Indees, cut a trivalent node  in half, you get a half-node with one half-edge  (this is type  I half-node) and another half-node with two half-edges (this is type II half-node).   Each stick has two ends which are type I half-nodes and it is a list which starts and ends with type I half-nodes and contains  otherwise only type II hald-nodes. A ring is a circular list made of type II half-nodes.

Succ and it’s inverse ccus is the function (permutation) which for any half-node from a  stick or ring gives the sucessor half-node, if any (or the predecessor half-node  in the case of ccus).

Gamma and it’s inverse  ammag is the function (permutation) which pairs each type I half-node with it’s type  II other half-node.

The new thing here is that we shall think about half-nodes as names of channels in an asynchronous pi-calculus.

In the needs algorithm the rewrites (which are  conservative in the number of half-nodes) are small permutations of half-nodes. The gamma-ammag function is passive, in the sense that it never changes.   The rewrites are  random.

In the version I   propose here   each half-node is a unidirectional channel which can be used to communicate other channels names and some data. In the case of the graph rewrite systems we discuss here the other data is the color of the (half-)node.

In the case of chemlambda strings we  need a bit for the half-node type and 2 bits for the colors. As a (half) tongue-in-cheek I used DNA or RNA like encoding, like in this screen casting, to turn a mol file into the sticks and rings version.


In the version proposed here we  change the algorithm of random application of a rewrite with an algorithm which involves only communication via the channels  associated with the half-nodes.

Here is  the description of a SH rewrite


Each  stick is the property of somebody (A, B, C, D, …), say an actor. A stick is a list of  channels names.  So the data (0-dim) are the channels names, organized in lists which are managed by actors.

Actors can send messages through channels and also they can edit their list.

A rewrite, here the SH,  is an contract, i.e. an algorithm which describes how to achieve the rewrite via communication and editing of list, such that each actor can locally  execute it’s part.

But how can we  read  such a contract? In many ways, because the formalism is so general. For example: B and D exchange C in the place A, witnessed by the notary node e1.

Then what can be the pairs  yellow-blue and blue-blue? Recall that originally the SH rewrite is


Well, coins? Or coin (yellow-blue) and gas (blue-blue)?  Or receipts? Imagination is the limit and all can be made  in practice. If you are interested to make it real contact me.


Small graph rewrite systems (2)

I continue from the last post on small graph rewrite systems. Let’s see some more details about the SH-2.1 system.

The last post ends with a realization of the DIST rewrite in SH-2.1. We can do better than that, by showing that the DIST rewrite is reversible:




As you see, the two pairs yellow-blue and blue-blue play the role  of enzymes.

Another two interesting reactions are the following:


So the “yellow ends” duplicate, with a pair blue-blue as an enzyme.



The supplementary “blue ends” prune themselves, in a sort  of duality  with the “yellow ends”. This time there is a yellow-blue pair enzyme.


Small graph rewrite systems (I)

What happens if we use the sticks and rings description of  oriented fatgraphs, like in this post, but we drop the orientation? Moreover, what if we use as few colors as  possible and as few rewrites as possible?

For the sticks and rings version of chemlambda see this.

If we have oriented edges then the sticks and rings  image is equivalent with the usual oriented trivalent fatgraph. But if we drop the edges orientation something interesting happens. The trivalent nodes become invertible. Indeed, take for example, with the notations from chemlambda, a node as seen in a mol file:

A 1 2 3

It means that we have a node “A” (i.e. application)   with a port named “1”, a port named “2” and a out port named “3”. To get a more precise idea, think about “1” as a term “T_1”, about “2” as a term “T_2” and about “3” as the term “T_1 T_2”.

In the sticks and rings version there is an edge which connects “1” and “3”, which is perhaps part  of a stick (which has two ends) or a ring (which has none). “1” and “3” appear as marks on that stick (or ring) and the stick (or ring) has an orientation so that the successor of “1” is “3”.

Another stick, which ends with the mark “2” and the node “A”, is glued between the marks “1” and “2”.

For a node like

FO 1 2 3

(i.e. a fanout) the oriented stick passes from “1” to “3” but this time the second stick starts with the node “FO” and the mark “2”.

Now, if we drop the sticks orientations, it means that we can no longer discern between say “A 1 2 3” and “A 3 2 1”. As an expression which depends on the port “2”,  we can go from “1” to “3” as easily as we go from “3” to “1”, so it  looks invertible.

As a first try let’s see how does a non-oriented sticks and rings version of Lafont interaction combinators look like. We need only two colors, to discern between the \gamma and \delta combinators. We shall not use the combinators with only one port.

The IC-2.1 system

The \gamma \delta  rewrite will be like a DIST rewrite from chemlambda, only unoriented.



Then, the \gamma \gamma looks like this


and finally the \delta \delta may be seen like this


As you see all rewrites are made conservative in the number of nodes, by the addition of supplementary 2-nodes sticks, call them “pairs” from now.


Now we have some problems:

  • the RHS of the DIST rewrite contains the pattern from the LHS  if we add another pair yellow-blue. That is bad because it means we can continue indefinitely the same rewrite if we have enough yellow-blue pairs  at our  disposal
  • practically almost any sticks and rings graph is extremely reactive, because any combination of nodes colors which are neighbours on a stick or ring will trigger a rewrite. Question: which are the graphs which are fully reduced?
  • if we look back to Lafont interaction combinators, then we see that our system has more rewrites than the original. Indeed, that is because the non-oriented sticks and rings image is ambiguous, not equivalent with the interaction combinators. This explains the abundance of patterns for reduction.


The SH-2.1 system

Let’s try another rewrite system, non-oriented sticks and rings and two colors. We’ll take the shuffle trick rewrite as basic, this time:


Then we add a “glue” rewrite


and a “remove” rewrite



Now we are in the realm of emergent algebras, with the yellow node as a generic dilation and the blue node as a fanout (more about this later). We can do lots of funny things with this small system, for example we can do a DIST:





There is a remarkable behaviour here. Look at the pair blue-blue, you have it at the left of the “simulated” DIST and at the right of it.

The pair blue-blue behaves like an enzyme!

[Continues with this post.]

9-quine string animation

I use the chemlambda strings version to show  how the 9-quine works. [What is a quine in chemlambda? See here.]





The 9-quine is the smallest quine in chemlambda which does not have a termination node.  There exist smaller quines if the termination node is admitted. For example  the chemlambda equivalent of a quine from Interaction Combinators  which appears in Lafont’ foundational article.

As you see this version is conservative and there are no enzymes.

I shall come back with a post which explains why and how the 9-quine dies. It is of course due to the conflicts in chemlambda, see the examples from the page on chemlambda v2.

Lambda calculus inspires experiments with chemlambda

In the now deleted chemlambda collection I told several stories about how lambda calculus can bring inspiration for experiments with chemlambda. I select for this post a sequence of such experiments. For previous related posts here see this tag and this post.

Let’s go directly to the visuals.

Already in chemlambda v1 I remarked the interesting behaviour of the graph (or molecule) which is obtained from the lambda term of the predecessor applied to a Church number.  With the deterministic greedy algorithm of reductions, after the first stages of reduction there is a repeating pattern of  reduction, (almost) up to the end. The predecessor applied to the Church number molecule looks almost like a closed loop made of pairs A-FO (because that’s how a Church number appears in chemlambda), except a small region which contains the graph of the predecessor, or what it becomes after few rewrites.

In chemlambda v2 we have two kinds of fanouts: FO and FOE.  The end result of the reduction of the same molecule, under the same algorithm, is different: where in chemlambda v1 we had FO nodes (at the end of the reduction), now we have FOE nodes. Other wise there’s the same phenomenon.

Here is it, with black and white visuals


Made by recording of this live (js) demo.

1. What happens if we start not from the initial graph, but from the graph after a short number of rewrites? We have just to cut the “out” root of the initial graph, and some nodes from it’s neighbourhood and glue back, so that we obtain a repeating pattern walking on a circular train track.

Here is it, this time with the random reduction algorithm:


I previously called this graph an “ouroboros”. Or a walker.

2. That is interesting, it looks like a creature (can keep it’s “presence”) which walks in a single direction in a 1-dimensional world.  What could be the mechanism?

Penrose comes to mind, so in the next animation I also use a short demonstration from a movie by Penrose.



3. Let’s go back to the lambda calculus side and recall that the algorithm for the translation of a lambda term to a chemlambda molecule is the same as the one from GLC, i.e the one from Section 3 here. There is a freedom in this algorithm, namely that trees of FO nodes can be rewired as we wish. From one side this is normal for GLC and chemlambda v1,  which have the CO-COMM and CO-ASSOC rewrites


In chemlambda v2 we don’t have these rewrites at all, which means that in principle two diferent molecules,  obtained from the same lambda term, which differ only by the rewiring of the FO nodes may reduce differently.

In our case it would be interesting to see if the same is true for the FOE nodes as well. For example, remark that the closed loop, excepting the walker, is made by a tree of FOE nodes, a very simple one. What happens if we perturb this tree, say by permuting some of the leaves of the tree, i.e. by rewiring the connections between FOE and A nodes.


The “creature” survives and now it walks in a world which is no longer 1 dimensional.

Let’s play more: two permutations, this time let’s not glue the ends of the loop:


It looks like a signal transduction from the first glob to the second. Can we make it more visible, say by making invisible the old nodes and visible the new ones? Also let’s fade the links by making them very large and almost transparent.


Signal transduction! (recall that we don’t have a proof that indeed two molecules from the same lambda term, but with rewired FO trees reduce to the same molecule, actually this is false! and true only for a class of lambda terms. The math of this is both fascinating and somehow useless, unless we either use chemlambda in practice or we build chemlambda-like molecular computers.)

4.  Another way to rewire the tree of FOE nodes is to transform it into another tree with the same leaves.



5. Wait, if we understand how exactly this works, then we realize that we don’t really need this topology, it should also work for topologies like generalized Petersen graphs, for example for a dodecahedron.



This is a walker creature which walks in a dodecaheral “world”.

6. Can the creature eat? If we put something on it’s track, see if it eats it and if it modifies the track, while keeping it’s shape.


So the creature seems to have a metabolism.

We can use this for remodeling the world of the creature. Look what happens after many passes of the creature:



7. What if we combine the “worlds” of two creatures, identical otherwise. Will they survive the encounter, will they interact or will they pass one through the other like solitons?



Well, they survive. Why?

8. What happens if we shorten the track of the walker, as much as possible? We obtain a graph wit the following property: after one (or a finite give number of) step of the greedy deterministic algorithm we obtain an isomorphic graph. A quine! chemlambda quine.

At first, it looks that we obtained a 28 nodes quine. After some analysis we see that we can reduce this quine to a 20 nodes quine. A 20-quine.

Here is the first observation of the 20-quine under the random algorithm


According to this train of thoughts, a chemlambda quine is a graph which has a periodic evolution under the greedy deterministic algorithm, with the list of priority of rewrites set to DIST rewrites (which add nodes)  with greater priority than beta and FI-FOE rewrites (which subtract ndoes), and which does not have termination nodes (because it leads to some trivial quines).

These quines are interesting under the random reduction algorithm, which transform them into mortal living creatures with a metabolism.


So this is an example of how lambda calculus can inspire chemlambda experiments, as well as interesting mathematical questions.

A project in chemical computing and Lafont universality

The post Universality of interaction combinators and chemical reactions ends with the idea that Lafont universality notion, for interaction systems, may be the right one for chemical computing.

These days are strange, every one comes with some call from one of my old projects. (About new ones soon, I have so many things.) Today is even more special because there were two such calls.One of them was from what I wrote in A project in chemical computing page from april 2015. It ends with:

    If you examine what happens in this chemical computation, then you realise that it is in fact a means towards self-building of chemical or geometrical structure at the molecular level. The chemlambda computations are not done by numbers, or bits, but by structure processing. Or this structure processing is the real goal!
     Universal structure processing!

There is even this video about an Ackermann function molecular computer I forgot about.

The idea is that the creation of a real molecule to compute Ackermann(2,2) would be the coolest thing ever made in chemical computing. If that is possible then as possible as well would be an Ackermann goo made from Ackermann(4,4):


In Graphic lambda calculus and chemlambda (III) I comment again on Lafont:

    • Lafont universality property of interaction combinators means, in this pseudo-chemical sense, that

the equivalent molecular computer based on interaction combinators reactions (though not the translations) works

    for implementing a big enough class of reactions which are Turing universal in particular (Lafont  shows concretely that he can implement Turing machines).


In the series about Lafont interaction combinators and chemlambda (1) (2) (3), as well as in the paper version of the article Molecular computers, an effort is made to reconnect chemlambda research with much older work by Lafont. [UPDATE: I retrieved this, I forgot about it, it’s mostly chemlambda v1  to chemlambda v2, see also this post ]