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lisp: FAQ

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This FAQ search page is a listing of the most frequently asked questions about "lisp". A great place to start getting answers to all your basic "lisp" questions.

What is Lisp?

Lisp is a family of programming languages descended from a language John McCarthy invented (or more accurately, discovered) in the late 1950s. The two main dialects now are Common Lisp and Scheme. We're working on a new dialect called Arc .
Apart from being a magical word: It is the family of programming languages using S-expressions. Main dialects are Common Lisp and Scheme .

Is Lisp Slow?

Answer 2: Some free Common Lisp implementations have native-code compilers that are about half as fast as C. This translates to 2-4 times the speed of Java and 50-80 times the speed of Perl, Python, or Ruby. Refer to for details.

Is Scheme a lisp?

Scheme is a member of the greater family of Lisp languages, assuming that is considered to include others like Dylan and Emacs Lisp. The design of Scheme predates the ANSI Common Lisp standard, and some CL features such as lexical scoping may be considered to have been derived from Scheme. ...

When did lisp die?

Once a year since about 1975, if you listen to people on Usenet. Interest in lisp did drop considerably in the mid to late 1980s, when the "Big AI" bubble burst, and the end of the Cold War brought budget cuts to many of the AI and simulation projects sponsored by the DoD. It's not clear-cut, though. Some of the very best books on lisp programming were written as or shortly after mainstream interest in Lisp started to wane (see or list above).

Why another Lisp?

Because Scheme was too little and Common Lisp was too much. We (a loose formation of industrial and academic Lisp users and developers from around Europe) liked Scheme because of its careful design, but were frustrated by its minimalism. We also liked Common Lisp, for its comprehensiveness and for its object system, but not for its size and backward compatibility. EuLisp is the result of trying to steer a path between the two with the
OpenLisp implements the ISO/IEC 13816 ISLisp language. See discussions on ISLISP.

Is Lisp perfect?

No, there are trade-offs. Mandatory parentheses make individual expressions clunky. Macros and first-class functions compensate for this in large programs, but one-liners can be wordy. In the case of arithmetic operators, the syntax looks unusual, so many people take a while to get used to it. ...

What will happen to the Lisp version?

The User Interface Software Group is sorry to report that we can no longer support Garnet. The staff people who knew about it have all left, and we must devote our efforts to Amulet, our new C++ toolkit (see [10]). However, a number of Garnet users are still active, so bug reports and questions to or to the garnet newsgroup are usually answered by a Garnet user. If someone is interested in maintaining Garnet and/or integrating the accummulated patches, please let us know.

What is the difference between Scheme and Common Lisp?

Lisp books, introductions, documentation, periodicals, journals, and conference proceedings.
Scheme books, introductions, documentation, periodicals, journals, and conference proceedings. [1-4] Where can I learn about implementing Scheme interpreters and

Is there a good online tutorial for Lisp?

Start with Chapter 2 of Ansi Common Lisp, which is a brief introduction to Lisp programming. For more detail, see the Common Lisp reference manual .

What online resources are there for lisp users?

The Common Lisp Hyperspec A non-normative transferral of the official ANSI standard for Common Lisp to the hypertext medium, by Kent Pitman. Association of Lisp Users The website of the association of lisp users. Infrequently updated. CLiki An on-line Wiki-equivalent with emphasis on Free software written in Common Lisp. 3. Terminology
The Common Lisp Hyperspec A non-normative transferral of the official ANSI standard for Common Lisp to the hypertext medium, by Kent Pitman. Association of Lisp Users The website of the association of lisp users. Infrequently updated. CLiki An on-line Wiki-equivalent with emphasis on Free software written in Common Lisp. Planet.Lisp Aggregator for the weblogs and diaries of various Common Lisp hackers. Home to a number of Common Lisp development projects.

What is the difference between Scheme and Lisp?

Scheme is a dialect of Lisp that stresses conceptual elegance and simplicity. It is much smaller than Common Lisp; the language specification is about 50 pages, compared to Common Lisp's 1300 page draft standard. Advocates of Scheme often find it amusing that the entire Scheme standard is shorter than the index to Guy Steele's “Common Lisp: the Language, 2nd Edition”. ...

Why Lisp instead of C++ or java?

Lisp provides an easy way to teach and implement abstract ideas. It also provides an interactive environment in which it is easy to experiment with your ideas and code. The course is not a programming course, but focuses on the solution of biomedical computing problems, using a programming language to provide a precise expression of the problem and its solution. Lisp is easy to learn. ...

How can I learn Lisp?

The way to learn any language is to write programs in it. You have two main dialects to choose between: Scheme and Common Lisp. They each have advantages and disadvantages, but the differences between them are tiny compared to the differences between them and other languages, so if you want to start learning Lisp, it doesn't matter which you choose. There are good books about both dialects, and many good free implementations. So get a book and an implementation, and start trying to write programs. ...

Why doesn't lisp have structures or arrays?

If arrays and structures don't exist, then obviously MAKE-ARRAY and DEFSTRUCT must be figments of the imagination. Similarly, since Lisp only uses association lists to organize "database-like" information, MAKE-HASH-TABLE must also be a figment of the imagination. Based on the nonexistence of the above figments of the imagination, Perl and Python, with arrays, associative tables, and dictionaries, must obviously be manifestly superior.

Which forms of Lisp does Garnet work in?

On the Macintosh, we know Garnet works on MCL Version 2.0.1. On Unix, Garnet runs on every Lisp that we have come across which has CLX (interface to X11), which currently includes Allegro, Lucid, CMU, Harlequin Lispworks, AKCL, CLISP and TI Explorer Lisps. It appears that AKCL and CLISP are quite slow.

What is the syntax of functions in LISP?

In LISP a polish notation is used where each command is executed as following: (name arg1 arg2 ... argN). Always after opening parentheses is the name of a function (e.g., +, -, summa, setq) and later arguments for the function. The arguments can be numbers, atoms, lists, name of other functions - it depends on the function.

Is there a Lisp compiler/interpreter available?

We have Harlequin LispWorks available under SunOS, Solaris, IRIX and AIX. The lisp images can be found in /usr/local/bin named 'lispworks' (plain vanilla image) and 'lwclim' (plain vanilla with clim added). The distribution directory is /usr/local/lispworks. The version we have currently is 3.2.2. The on-line documentation can be found in /usr/local/doc/lispworks. Updated: 01/10/97 at 12:03:31

Why use LISP?

In short, no single improvement you can make to your AutoCAD system will save you more time, effort, and money. You can spend thousands on the latest generation computers, the fastest video cards, and so on, but that won't make nearly as big a difference as automating your system with software. With an arsenal of LISP routines, you will send accuracy, consistency, and productivity soaring while greatly reducing the stress and strain of CAD operation. ...

Why doesn't Common Lisp have continuations?

Continuations are a great theoretical tool; if a language has first-class, multiply-invocable continuations then one can build threads, exceptions, coroutines, and the kitchen sink on top. However, such continuations present a a heavy burden for a Lisp implementer and may preclude or at least complicate other desirable optimizations. ...

Where can I get a copy of On Lisp?

Thanks to Chip Coldwell, you can now get a Postscript file of it online. It looks as if the book is going to be in print again soon, but if you are determined to have a valuable first edition, you can get a used copy at Amazon.

Where can I buy a professional lisp system?

There are a fair few commercial vendors of Lisp systems; the following are the most active: Allegro Common Lisp Franz Inc's Allegro Common Lisp is a fine lisp development environment. See their website for more details LCL LCL (formerly Liquid Common Lisp) is an offering from Xanalys LispWorks Another offering from Xanalys, LispWorks has a different set of extensions above the ANSI specification from LCL MCL A commercial implementation of Common Lisp for the Macintosh. ...

Where can I get documentation on Emacs Lisp?

Within Emacs, you can type C-h f to get the documentation for a function, C-h v for a variable. For more information, the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual is available on-line, in Info format. See Emacs Lisp . You can also order a hardcopy of the manual, details on ordering it from FSF are on the GNU Web site . An HTML version of the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual is available at Next: Printing a Texinfo file , Previous: Emacs Lisp documentation , Up: Getting help

Can Common Lisp code be used with TwinLisp?

Yes. Common Lisp code can inserted into TwinLisp code, and TwinLisp code can inserted into Common Lisp code, as well. One should use #t{ and #t} for this.

How do I get MCL (Macintosh Common Lisp)?

Macintosh Common Lisp is actively supported and developed by Digitool. Their web site is at . Discussions about MCL are at news:comp.lang.lisp.mcl . Digitool also has an FTP site with patches and contributed code at . [8] I am having trouble getting CLX to work... CLX should be supplied with every Common Lisp for Unix. If you have trouble with CLX, please contact your Lisp vendor. We can't help you.

Is LISP available on CS machines?

Allegro Common LISP is installed in the directory: /lusr/bin/acl, on the public Sun and Linux machines. There are also other LISP interpreters such as gcl installed in /p/bin/gcl and supported by public@cs.

Does Isoblocks support lisp routines?

No, It is a library only. Some lisp routines can be written to do automatic scale of block size.
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