Does there exist a normal-form lambda calculus program $f$ such that

  • $f (\lambda x . x)$ normalizes
  • For all normal form $e \ne \lambda x . x$, $f e$ does not normalize

1 Answer 1


Well nevermind this has an easy answer.

Let $r_n = \lambda x_1 ... x_n . \lambda p . p \: x_1 ... x_n$

Note that for $m < n$, $r_n\: A_1 ... A_m$ normalizes for any normal $A_1 ... A_m$.

Then for any $f$, let $n$ be larger than the number of subterms in $f$.

$f \:r_n$ normalizes, so therefore no $f$ exists which only normalizes for a specific input.

  • $\begingroup$ Did you use the fact that $f$ normalizes on $\lambda x.\ x$? Does this actually prove that any normalizing $f$ must normalize on infinitely many normalized arguments? $\endgroup$
    – chi
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 12:03

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