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Bottom

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Revision as of 21:37, 4 January 2008 by JaredUpdike (Talk | contribs)

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The term bottom refers to a computation which never completes successfully. That includes a computation that fails due to some kind of error, and a computation that just goes into an infinite loop (without returning any data).

The mathematical symbol for bottom is '⊥'. That's Unicode character 22A5 hex = 8869 decimal. Also available in HTML as '⊥' and in LaTeX as '\bot' (within math mode). In plain ASCII, it's often written as the extremely ugly character sequence '_|_'.

Bottom is a member of any type, even the trivial type () or the equivalent simple type:

data Unary = Unary

If it were not, the compiler could solve the halting problem and statically determine whether any computation terminated.

Bottom can be expressed in Haskell thus:

bottom = bottom

or

bottom = error "Non-terminating computation!"