[ExI] ai class at stanford

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed Aug 24 13:30:58 UTC 2011

On Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 1:13 PM, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:
> Then you didn't get it.  :)  Especially you didn't fully get macros or you
> would have tuned the language to exactly what you wanted and needed.

Macros and functions don't make LISP all that much easier for those
who don't think in a LISP-like way. Yes, I did get far enough along to
use all that. I programmed in Common LISP on an HP workstation for
around 6 months. I still am not a big fan, not that it's a bad
language, we just had a personality conflict. :-)

>> So LISP is a nice thing to know... and it is very simple to learn...
>> basically it goes like this
>> (Operator Operand Operand ...) with 1 or more operands, that
>> themselves can be this root structure.
> That is about like describing only the function call of any language.  It
> doesn't tell you anything about why lisp is different.
> Check out:
> http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/introduction-why-lisp.html
> http://www.paulgraham.com/icad.html

The first and most obvious difference between LISP and other languages
is that it is a prefix language. All by itself, that makes it strange
to most of us. Yes, there are many wonderful things about LISP, and
you can do some things in LISP better than any other language. Doing
all of your day to day programming in LISP is a little like doing all
your woodworking with a draw knife. Yeah, you can do it, maybe, but
it's going to be painful to turn a table leg that way... LISP is a
specialty tool that can be used as a general purpose programming
language, but why would you do that?

>> Most LISPs have a way to create new Operators too (functions and
>> procedures) so you don't have to have the whole program in one list.
> All lisps have this.  All functions and macros, except for a tiny number of
> special operators, are user level equivalent. Any lisp without both first
> class functions and macros is not lisp.

You are right.


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