The Order of the Lambda

July 4, 2012

After thinking and writing about forming a study group, I finally decided to give it a try. I advertised it on, calling the group “The Order of the Lambda.” My vision is to create a club devoted to weekly study of the most beautiful and abstract ideas of mathematics and computer science.

I wanted to focus on three guding principles that I think are sometimes lacking in meetups:

  1. Deeds, not words: meetings are a focused time to do exercises.
  2. Timeless knowledge: study classics, not fads.
  3. Uncompromising clarity: learn to understand and teach.

We have had several meetings now, and I am proud of our group and our progress. Members have been eager to explore the material in a way I never encountered in a formal classroom setting. Everyone takes turns at the whiteboard explaining ideas and trying examples.

A picture from our first meeting.

first meeting

first meeting

We chose to start our studies with An Introduction to Category Theory by Harold Simmons. Categories were developed in the 1940s as a general language for describing diverse phenomena in mathematics. They have subsequently been applied in programming language design and semantics. It’s a broad and beautiful subject and I think it forms a natural place to begin our journey.