Re: lisp & scheme

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Bjørn Remseth (
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 00:18:59 PST

On Mon, Mar 20, 2000 at 11:11:14AM -0600, Jeff Bone wrote:

> Learn Scheme. (Actually trying to go learn Common Lisp at this point would
> be kind of like deciding you really wanted to learn some old, gnarly
> research version of UNIX instead of, say, a nice modern BSD4x or System V
> version.)

Naaah. Common Lisp is actually useful, since it comes with a bunch of
pretty useful libraries and is available in both as free software and as
very mature industry strength products (see for a
list of vendors).

The "core language" isn't that horrible. Paul Graham's "ANSI Common Lisp"
sums it up neatly, his book is both clearly written and pretty
comprehensive. Part of Common Lisp's bad rep probably originates from the
older standard reference books: Both Steele's tome and the ANSI standard
both look pretty scary (they are -thick-, and they have no pictures ;), but
even _that_ shouldn't be to scary these days: I just bought a bunch of Java
books for my employer, now _that_ is a scary amount of paper, several tomes,
many of which are thicker than both Steele's book and the ANSI Standard (but
with larger types ;)

Now, Scheme is very nice, and I do recommend learning it, but every time I
write something in it I either use it as a scripting language for someone
else's base system, or feel like I have to implement just about every
library in the world from scratch before I can do any real work. In Common
Lisp the baseline functionality is is much richer (thus the thickness of the
ANSI standard) and the commercial vendors has (usually) done a thoughtful
job of adding useful stuff that isn't in the standard yet (threading, object
oriented streams etc.) so the amount of code you have to write yourself
before doing "real work" is that much smaller. It's my favorite language ;)

> Lisp's scoping rules include an actual *bug* which has since
> become such a part of Lisp culture that true Lispers think of it as a
> feature. Not to mention, Lisp per-se is more irregular / idiosyncratic /
> larger surface area, and most of the good texts these days deal with Scheme
> anyway.

Dynamic scope has its uses, and if you don't like it, just don't use it ;)


Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Mar 21 2000 - 00:20:24 PST