thunks: a brief history



~1 min read


109 words

In Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, and Julie Sussman, there’s a brief description of where the word “thunk” comes from in computer science.

The word thunk was invented by an informal working group that was discussing the implementation of call-by-name in Algol 60. They observed that most of the analysis of (“thinking about”) the expression could be done at compile time; thus, at run time, the expression would already have been “thunk” about (Ingerman et al. 1960).

Having first been exposed to this idea in Redux, I find it fascinating to see how ideas in computer science build on one another.

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