Your First Programs

Let’s move on and define some programs. An Egel program is a collection of scripts driven by a main function.

Hello World

We’ll start with the cannonical example for a new language “hello world”. Edit the file and add the following content.

def main = "Hello world!"

An Egel script is a text file which may define one main function. You don’t have to do that, but then it won’t run anything.

Run the example with the Egel interpreter.

user$ egel
Hello world!

More functions

More functions make for more interesting scripts. Let’s start of with a function you should know, factorial.

The interpreter starts with a clean slate, you’ll need to give a using System directive to access the builtin math combinators.

using System

def fac = [ 1 -> 1 | N * fac (N - 1) ]

def main = fac 5

Save it somewhere, run it, and it should give you a number.

Adding namespaces

Functions live in namespaces. A namespace starts with a capital letter and names all combinators within the space. Let’s move on to the venerable Fibonacci.

namespace Fibonacci (

    using System

    def fib =
        [ 0 -> 1
        | 1 -> 1
        | N -> fib (N - 1) + fib (N - 2) ]


using Fibonacci

def main = fib 5

Multiple scripts

Of course, you’ll want to use and define small data structures. That’s easy in Egel, small constants can function as constructors, although when you become more advanced you will often just leave them away.

While we’re at it, let’s pretend this is serious business and split our new application into two files.

Put the following code in the file

namespace Eval (

    using System

    data sum, mul

    def eval =
        [ sum X Y -> eval X + eval Y
        | mul X Y -> eval X * eval Y
        | X -> X ]


And write the following text to

import ""

using Eval

def main = eval (sum 3 (mul 2 7))

The import directive tells the interpreter where to look. Running egel should give 17.