# CS Theory with Make

In this post, I play around with some make functions and eventually provide a constructive proof that the make syntax is turing complete via reduction to μ-recursion.

First, we have to construct numbers. I used the representation of numbers as unary strings of the character 0: ie, the number 4 is represented by 0000 (zero being the empty string). We can also compute the successor of a number:

# If this is called as a make function, $(1) will be replaced with the first # function argument. successor = O$(1)

$(info$(call successor,O))  # Outputs 'OO'


Life is a lot easier if we can compute predecesser. Luckily, this is pretty easy for us too:

monus_one = $(patsubst O%,%,$(1))

$(info$(call monus_one,OO))  # Outputs '0'


Now lets actually do computation with this. It is hideous, but we can actually compute fibonacci numbers in make:

fib = $(if$(1),$(if$(call monus_one,$(1)),$(call fib,$(call \ monus_one,$(1)))$(call fib,$(call monus_one,$(call monus_one,$(1)))),O),O)


# fib (n):
fib = $(if$(1), # If n > 0:
$(if$(call monus_one,$(1)), # if n - 1 > 0: # return fib(n-1) + fib(n-2)$(call fib,$(call monus_one,$(1)))$(call fib,$(call monus_one,$(call monus_one,$(1))))
,O) # else: return 1
,O) # else: return 1


This is pretty fun and all, but we haven't actually done anything that we couldn't do with a primitive recursive function. We can easily show that make is more powerful than primitive recusion by encoding the Ackerman function.

ack = $(if$(1),$(if$(2),$(call ack,$(call monus_one,$(1)),$(call \
ack,$(1),$(call monus_one,$(2)))),$(call ack,$(call monus_one,$(1)),O)),$(2)O)  All right, so how far can we take this? As it turns out, there is a class of functions that are computable only by a turing complete language: µ-recursive functions. They are the primitive recursive functions with the addition of the minimization (µ) operator: µ of f(x) is the minimum x such that f(x)=0. As it turns out, we can encode this operator in make: # muh f x returns the first number greater than or equal to x such # that f(x) is true. muh =$(if $(call$(1),$(2)),$(2),$(call muh,$(1),O$(2))) # mu f returns the first number greater than or equal to 0 such # that f(x) is true. mu =$(call muh,$(1),)  Wow! There we have it, make is turing complete. As a final piece of fun, here is the inverse ackerman function: not =$(if $(1),,O) # lesseq_template n creates a function lesseq_y that returns y < x define lesseq_template lesseq_$(1) = $$(findstring$$(1),$(1)) endef # geack_template y creates a function geack_y that returns ack(x) > y define geack_template geack_$(1) = $(eval$(call lesseq_template,$(1)))\ $$(call not,$$(call lesseq_$(1),$$(call ack,$$(1),(1))))
endef

# invack n: Find the first value x such that ack(x) > n.
invack = $(eval$(call geack_template,$(1)))$(call mu,geack_\$(1))