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The text starts by describing lambda calculus as a formal term rewriting system and outlining some simple applications, like Church numerals, propositional functions, ordered pairs, and recursion via the fixed point combinator.

The focus is then shifted toward interpretation of lambda calculus by a computer. This part of the book defines and implements a tiny subset of the Scheme programming language and then extends it iteratively until it can be used as the basis for a real-world implementation.

This part covers two models of interpretation as well as the transformation of lambda calculus to abstract machine code and portable C code.

The final part of the book explores a language that resembles lambda calculus more closely, by supporting partial function application. Even here, a full compiler for the language is provided.

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