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This paper stands at the intersection of two distinct lines of research. One line is “holographic algorithms,” a powerful approach introduced by Valiant for solving various counting problems in computer science; the other is “normal factor graphs,” an elegant framework proposed by Forney for representing codes defined on graphs. We introduce the notion of holographic transformations for normal factor graphs, and establish a very general theorem, called the generalized Holant theorem, which relates a normal factor graph to its holographic transformation. We show that the generalized Holant theorem on the one hand underlies the principle of holographic algorithms, and on the other hand reduces to a general duality theorem for normal factor graphs, a special case of which was first proved by Forney. In the course of our development, we formalize a new semantics for normal factor graphs, which highlights various linear algebraic properties that potentially enable the use of normal factor graphs as a linear algebraic tool.