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This is the reference distribution for Burro, a formal programming language whose denoted programs form a group under concatenation of their program texts.

For the definition of the Burro language version 1.0, which was the first attempt to do this but does not actually succeed in forming a group, see the file doc/

For the definition of the Burro language version 2.0, which does indeed form a group, see the Literate Haskell file Language/Burro/Definition.lhs in the src directory. This also serves as a reference implementation of the language, and includes a sketch of a proof that Burro is Turing-complete.

The sense in which Burro programs form a group

The language version 1.0 and 2.0 documents don't do a great job of explaining what is meant by the set of Burro programs forming a group — 1.0 tries to explain by defining a new concept, a "group over an equivalence relation", and 2.0 just carries on with the idea without elucidating it. This new concept is not necessary and I'll try to briefly provide a more conventional description here.

Let B be the set of syntactically valid Burro program texts (hereinafter simply "program texts"). B is defined by an inductive definition, so can be thought of as an algebraic structure with a number of operations of various arities.

Every program text t represents some Burro program, which we will denote by ⟦t⟧. But because we typically ignore some operational aspects of execution, multiple program texts can represent the same program. For example, +- and -+ represent the same program.

In other words, ⟦⟧ is not injective. It is a homomorphism between B and the set of Burro programs, and as such it induces an equivalence relation. If, for program texts s and t, ⟦s⟧ = ⟦t⟧, we say s ~ t.

We can take the quotient of B by this equivalence relation to obtain the algebraic structure B/\~. This is the set of all Burro programs representable by B, which is by definition the set of all Burro programs.

However, in Language/Burro/Definition.lhs we go on to show that B/\~ is not merely an algebraic structure, it is in fact a group. In particular, for every Burro program a in B/\~ there exists a unique Burro program b in B/\~ such that a * b = e, where * is program composition and e is the null program.

From this, working backwards through the homomorphism (so to speak), we can infer that, for every program text s in B there exists a program text t in B such that ⟦s⟧ * ⟦t⟧ = ⟦s t⟧ = e. (In fact, for every s there are infinitely many such t's.)

This is the sense in which the set of Burro programs forms a group, and in which every syntactically valid Burro program text has an annihilator.