Chapter 22 : Lambda (anonymous function)


Tezos as a public blockchain expects that contracts should have the same behaviour for all users. In theory, once a contract is deployed, it should not be changed.

We call antipattern a smart contract that has a special role (administration) or may be evolving (changing the rules of the smart contract).

The need to modify the behaviour of a smart contract emerges when for example the laws of a country have changed and you need to apply the same changes in your smart contract. One could write a new smart contract (V2) and deploy it but it would imply that all existing information stored in the storage of the old smart contract (V1) would be lost. This problem can be solved by : 1- migrating storage information through transactions, 2- or by forcing the new contract to request storage data from the old contract, 3- or by customizing the contract implementation.

In this chapter we will focus on the third solution.

Versioning by re-emission

Versioning can be done by writing a new smart contract and emitting transactions from the old contract (V1) to migrate storage information to the new contract (V2). This may require a lot of transactions and thus a lot of fees (resulting in a significant price). This price could be paid by the smart contract that would emit transactions or by each user which would invoke a “migrate” entry point of V1 contract to send storage information to the new V2 contract. Transaction emission has been seen in chapter 17 with the Tezos.transaction predefined function.

Versioning by contract communication

Versioning can be done by writing a new smart contract that can ask information to the old contract. This pattern needs a 2-way communication where the new contract sends a “request” transaction and reacts when the old contract is sending back the requested information. Execution of an entry point would become asynchronous (due to the 2-way transactions). The old contract V1 must be implemented in a way that allows to send transaction to a not yet deployed contract (see chapter Polymorphism).

Versioning by lambda

Versioning can be done by writing a single smart contract that can change its properties and functions (lambdas). This implies to be able to forecast what kind of change might be needed. It also implies a special administration role who is allowed to change the behavior of the smart contract. The administration role could be implemented with a multi-signature pattern that allows changing the behavior of the smart contract if enough user agree on the proposed change.


Changing the behavior of a smart contract can be done by customizing the implementation through lambda functions. The idea is to implement the smart contract logic in a lambda funtion that can be modified after the contract deployment.

This pattern requires to:

  • define an anonymous function in the storage which is called by an entry point
  • write a new entry point that allows to change the implementation of this anonymous function.

Let’s consider the “starmap” smart contract :

// starmap.ligo
type coordinates = { x : int, y : int, z : int }
type planets = map (string, coordinates)
type storage = {
  name : string,
  func : ((coordinates) => coordinates),
  systemplanets : planets
type return = (list(operation), storage)

type parameter = ChangeFunc ((coordinates) => coordinates) | AddPlanet ((string, coordinates)) | DoNothing

let addPlanet = ((input, store) : ((string, coordinates), storage)) : return =>
    let modified : planets = switch (Map.find_opt(input[0], store.systemplanets)) {
     | Some (p) => (failwith("planet already exist") : planets)
     | None => Map.add (input[0], store.func(input[1]), store.systemplanets)
    (([] :  list(operation)), {,func:store.func,systemplanets:modified});

let changeFunc = ((f,store) : (((coordinates) => coordinates), storage)) : return =>
  (([] :  list(operation)), {,func:f,systemplanets:store.systemplanets})

let main = ((action, store) : (parameter, storage)) : return =>
  switch (action) {
  | AddPlanet (input) => addPlanet ((input,store))
  | ChangeFunc (f) => changeFunc ((f,store))
  | DoNothing => (([] : list(operation)),store)

Lambda prototype

The prototype of a lambda has the following syntax :

((<parameter_type1>,<parameter_type2>) => <returned type>)

In the “starmap” smart contract, the type of func is

((coordinates) => coordinates)

⚠️ Note that the lambda function func takes as parameter some coordinates of a planet and returns coordinates of a planet as well.

Lambda call

Anonymous functions can be called like other functions. Here in our example, the lambda func is called in addPlanet to transform the planet’s coordinates :

Map.add (input[0], store.func(input[1]), store.systemplanets)

Lambda definition

The implementation of the lambda can be changed with the changeFunc function which assigns some new code to func. Here is an example of execution of the ChangeFunc entry point with the simulation ligo command line :

ligo dry-run lambda.religo main 'ChangeFunc((c : coordinates) : coordinates => {x:c.x*100,y:c.y,z:c.z})' '{name:"Sol",func:((c : coordinates) : coordinates => {x:c.x*10,y:c.y,z:c.z}),systemplanets:Map.literal([("earth", {x:2,y:7,z:1})])}'

⚠️ Notice that the new implementation of func multiplies the ‘x’ coordinate by 100 (defined as parameter of ChangeFunc entry point)

⚠️ Notice that the old implementation of func multiplies the ‘x’ coordinate by 10 (defined in storage)

Your mission

We have a smart contract that registers planets of the Sol system. Since the beginning of the project, all celestial bodies were considered as planets. Since 2006, the IAU decided that celetial bodies with a mass under 100 megatons are not considered as a planet but as a dwarf-planet. Hopefully we forecasted this kind of change! A DeduceCategoryChange entry point allows us to change the lambda which determines the category of a celestial body. All we have to do is define the new rule and all registered celestial bodies will be updated.

Take a look at the starmap contract in the editor tabs.

⚠️ Notice that the function deduceCategoryChange allows to specify a new deduction function f which is assign to the lambda func with :

{, func:f, celestialbodies:modified}

⚠️ Notice that in the function deduceCategoryChange the sub-function applyDeduceCatg applies the new category deduction to a planet (category:f(p)).

let applyDeduceCatg = ((name,p) : (string, planet)) : planet =>    {position:p.position, mass:p.mass, category:f(p)};

⚠️ Notice that in the function deduceCategoryChange the sub-function applyDeduceCatg is used to update all entries of the celestialbodies map with : (applyDeduceCatg, store.celestialbodies);

We want you to update our “starmap” contract in order to take this new rule into account.

1- Write the dry-run command and the associated invocation (entry point) for taking the new rule into account. You must write a lambda function within the parentheses of DeduceCategoryChange as shown in the Lambda definition section. The lambda function must implement the three following rules.

2- First rule : if the coordinates of a planet is (0,0,0) then the celestial body is considered as a STAR.

3- Second rule : if the mass of a planet is above 100 then the celestial body is considered as a PLANET.

4- Third rule : if the mass of a planet is under 100 then the celestial body is considered as an ASTEROID.