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Re: [feyerabend-project] An introduction to Lisp

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  • Theo D'Hondt
    but here goes: Common Lisp isn t Lisp and (certainly) neither is CLOS. Lisp might be a thing of beauty but ... I remember being disgusted by the ADA reference
    Message 1 of 22 , Aug 30, 2002
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      but here goes:

      Common Lisp isn't Lisp and (certainly) neither is CLOS. Lisp might be a
      thing of beauty but ... I remember being disgusted by the ADA reference
      manual and then having to submit to the fact that CL/CLOS manuals were
      triple its size. Somewhere in this thread somebody used the term
      "bloated" for something entirely different but it might be applicable
      here. And Scheme as (Common) Lisp subjected to a fitness regime is
      still not satisfactory (does Scheme count 3 or 4 variations on the Let
      special form?). During the first issue of the Feyerabend workshop Dave
      Thomas insisted on the importance of LITTLE languages - I am convinced
      he is right. Lisp might be the original little language but we might be
      able to do better ...
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      Theo D'Hondt
      Programming Technology Lab : Computer Science Department
      Faculty of Sciences : Brussels Free University
      Pleinlaan 2 / B-1050 Brussels / BELGIUM EUROPE
      mailto:tjdhondt@... http://prog.vub.ac.be/~tjdhondt
      Phone : +32-2-629 33 08 Fax : +32-2-629 35 25
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
    • Pascal Costanza
      ... Here is a quote from an interview with James Gosling (see http://java.sun.com/features/2002/03/gosling.html) ... I think that this is just a pattern that
      Message 2 of 22 , Sep 2 6:27 AM
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        Theo D'Hondt wrote:
        > Common Lisp isn't Lisp and (certainly) neither is CLOS. Lisp might be a
        > thing of beauty but ... I remember being disgusted by the ADA reference
        > manual and then having to submit to the fact that CL/CLOS manuals were
        > triple its size. Somewhere in this thread somebody used the term
        > "bloated" for something entirely different but it might be applicable
        > here.

        Here is a quote from an interview with James Gosling (see
        http://java.sun.com/features/2002/03/gosling.html)

        | JDC: The Java language adds features with every release, and this is
        | generally good, but the whole thing is getting pretty large. If you
        | could take a few things out, what would they be?

        | JG: The Java language actually doesn't add very many features. [...]
        | What has really gone nuts is all the different APIs [...]. And this
        | question, in some sense, is unanswerable. It says, if you could take
        | a few things out of [the] J2SE [platform], what would they be? One
        | of the tragedies we have is that we've got so many customers and
        | everything that is in the platform is critical to a pretty large
        | group of customers. So, for any particular person, any particular
        | developer, not all of [the] J2SE [platform] is going to matter. But
        | for every developer, the slice of the platform that they care about
        | is different. [...]

        I think that this is just a pattern that emerges when you try to balance
        several forces. They are: trying to serve the needs of many potential
        users, trying to achieve portability, and trying to do this all in a
        unified framework. If you drop the unified framework then you get
        several interoperability problems that you need to solve on a case by
        case basis.

        > And Scheme as (Common) Lisp subjected to a fitness regime is
        > still not satisfactory (does Scheme count 3 or 4 variations on the Let
        > special form?). During the first issue of the Feyerabend workshop Dave
        > Thomas insisted on the importance of LITTLE languages - I am convinced
        > he is right. Lisp might be the original little language but we might be
        > able to do better ...

        I don't think that it is possible to show that "little languages" are
        inherently better than big languages (or than languages with big
        libraries). They just resolve different sets of forces.

        The size of a language cannot be a measure in its own right. Although
        "umlambda"
        (http://www.eleves.ens.fr:8080/home/madore/programs/unlambda/) is
        clearly a joke, it shows that the size of a language must be balanced
        against other forces in order to provide something useful.

        I think we are in need of a kind of "Pattern Language of Programming
        Language Design". I am convinced that language advocacies don't make any
        sense and that a PLoPLD would clarify that each programming language
        just tries to balance a different set of forces. I don't think that
        there can ever be a single general-purpose programming language because
        I am convinced that there cannot be consistent resolution of all
        thinkable forces in this regard. However, from what I have seen so far,
        Common Lisp has obviously (to me, at least) successfully managed to
        resolve a relatively large set of fundamental forces.

        Pascal

        --
        Pascal Costanza University of Bonn
        mailto:costanza@... Institute of Computer Science III
        http://www.pascalcostanza.de Römerstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)
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