In the wikipedia page on pure type systems, it gives the following inference rule:

$\frac{\Gamma \vdash A : s \quad x \notin \text{dom}(\Gamma)}{\Gamma, x : A \vdash x : A }\quad \text{(start)}$

What does $\text{dom}(\Gamma)$ mean here? These are string rewriting systems, so $\Gamma$ is supposed to be a string of symbols, a purely syntactic object. I'm not sure what a "domain of a string" is.

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    $\begingroup$ $\Gamma$ here is interpreted as a function from a set of variable names to the set of types. $x \notin \mathrm{dom}(\Gamma)$ means that $x$ is a fresh variable name, not in context. $\endgroup$
    – varkor
    Mar 2, 2021 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ @varkor, thank you. Just to check that I understand what you're saying: I was thinking of it as a string of typing statements $t_1:T_1,...,t_n:T_n$, where $t_i$ is a term variable and $T_i$ a specific type (not a type variable). Instead, you're saying, interpret this as a function $\Gamma$ defined by $\Gamma(t_i)=T_i$ for all $i\in \{1,...,n\}$? $\endgroup$
    – user56834
    Mar 2, 2021 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's right. (You might see other ways of defining contexts in other sources, e.g. as lists of types.) $\endgroup$
    – varkor
    Mar 2, 2021 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ @varkor, Thanks. If you set this as an answer, I'll accept it. $\endgroup$
    – user56834
    Mar 2, 2021 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


There are various ways to define contexts in type theories. In this style, we assume there is some infinite set of variable names $V$ and define the context $\Gamma : V \rightharpoonup S$ as a partial function from the set of variable names to the set of types. $\mathrm{dom}(\Gamma)$ is then the subset of $V$ on which $\Gamma$ is defined, i.e. the variables in the context $\Gamma$. To require that $x \notin \mathrm{dom}(\Gamma)$ is asking for $x$ to be a fresh variable for the context $\Gamma$.


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