I have never been sure if calling something a “calculus” as opposed to an “algebra” is intended to communicate something important in computer science. For example, people talk about the “lambda **calculus**“. But they also talk about “process **algebras**“. What’s the key property that would make some system a ‘calculus’? Or is it an arbitary naming choice, just indicating the personal preference of the creator?

## 2 thoughts on “CS question: calculus vs algebra”

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A Calculus donâ€™t need to form any algebraic structure, but an algebra does form. Contrast one of the Relational Calculus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_calculus) with the Relational Algebra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_algebra).

Okaym thanks. Now I need to figure out what algebriac structures require and don’t require.