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On Lisp by Graham P.

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By Graham P.

On Lisp is a complete examine of complicated Lisp ideas, with bottom-up programming because the unifying subject matter. It supplies the 1st whole description of macros and macro functions. The booklet additionally covers vital topics concerning bottom-up programming, together with sensible programming, swift prototyping, interactive improvement, and embedded languages. the ultimate bankruptcy takes a deeper examine object-oriented programming than earlier Lisp books, displaying the step by step building of a operating version of the typical Lisp item procedure (CLOS).As good as an imperative reference, On Lisp is a resource of software program. Its examples shape a library of features and macros that readers should be capable of use of their personal Lisp courses.

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Whether or not this is true of people, it is generally true of Lisp programs. Functional programs have a different shape from imperative ones. The structure in a functional program comes entirely from the composition of arguments within expressions, and since arguments are indented, functional code will show more variation in indentation. Functional code looks fluid 1 on the page; imperative code looks solid and blockish, like Basic. Even from a distance, the shapes of bad- and good-reverse suggest which is the better program.

We think of addition as cheap partly because we can notate it with a single character: “+”. Even if we believe that a construct is expensive, we will often prefer it to a cheaper one if it will cut our writing effort in half. In any language, the “tendency towards brevity” will cause trouble unless it is allowed to vent itself in new utilities. The shortest idioms are rarely the most efficient ones. If we want to know whether one list is longer than another, raw Lisp will tempt us to write (> (length x) (length y)) If we want to map a function over several lists, we will likewise be tempted to join them together first: (mapcar fn (append x y z)) Such examples show that it’s especially important to write utilities for situations we might otherwise handle inefficiently.

A database program would not be a utility, for example, but a function which performed a single operation on a list could be. Most utilities resemble the functions and macros that Lisp has already. In fact, many of Common Lisp’s built-in operators began life as utilities. The function remove-if-not, which collects all the elements of a list satisfying some predicate, was defined by individual programmers for years before it became a part of Common Lisp. 1 BIRTH OF A UTILITY 41 Learning to write utilities would be better described as learning the habit of writing them, rather than the technique of writing them.

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