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YoungLispers tell how they got into lisp (cliki.net)
34 points by gnosis on Dec 31, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

The recent Lisp Hackers interviews are far more interesting: http://lisp-univ-etc.blogspot.com/search/label/lisp-hackers

You can't see a date on it, but that page is now 10 years old (I wrote my entry when I was 20 years old, 30 now). Still loving Common Lisp (and clojure and Elixir and all the many other cool things that came out since then), so no harm done; just... beware (-:

The first thing you will need to get started with Lisp is a beard.

If you do not have a beard one will be provided.

To be fair, I was able to grow my beard after I started.

I wish they could go into more details about what they are using lisp for.

This is a must. For example, I used lisp for a computer competition and never since. I feel that there are more people who know lisp than programs that use lisp.

This issue, IMHO, is lisp's #1 problem towards greater acceptance.

I'm 15 and after trying to learn several different kind of languages(all from BASIC to C) I've finally found one that seems good for a total beginner. Even though SICP is a quite advanced text for someone who ain't native english speaking nor being very good at math, I've found it as an excellent book which I highly recommend to other beginner's.

Whenever I don't understand something I read the last parts again and finally I understand it. I've also got some great help by the CHICKEN[1] community and by reading articles at Wikipedia if there's words and math I don't understand.

[1] CHICKEN is a R5RS Scheme implementation. http://call-cc.org/

I'm glad to hear the community has been really supportive of you :) I'm just wondering though, wouldn't Racket be a better choice for you? It seems to have more useful libraries built in.

What worked well for me when going through SCIP: the header

    #lang planet neil/sicp
at the start of my .rkt files, after installing the corresponding package. See this link: http://www.neilvandyke.org/racket-sicp/

CHICKEN have a quite large set of libraries. I'll check out Racket though.

Mihai Bazon (of uglify.js fame) is also a big time lisper. His entire blog is powered by Common LISP. Check it out. AFAIR, he developed a browser based SLIME environment too


I got interested in lisp because of hn and pg, actually. Now I am writing toy one and reading through the kernel paper (because why shouldn't macros be first-class language objecs?). It's a sickness.

"Write programs that write programs" can someone elaborate on this?

Lisp is very good at parsing language (i.e. all data, like computer programs, are read into lists and LISP is built around this functionality; this is one reason why it is very popular among AI researchers). Combine that with things like 'eval' statements and you can easily parse and execute an arbitrary computer language with LISP. Very, very cool stuff.

EDIT: Here's a good explanation of why LISP is good at this sort of thing: http://jlongster.com/2012/02/18/its-not-about-macros-its-abo...

They probably mean something like macros and embedding DSLs.

What they probably don't mean is any sort of non-trivial automatic programming--writing programs that, for example, search through possible ways to solve some particular programming problem in assembly. Which, amusingly, is the one thing I've been using lisp for lately, working on program synthesis.

Of course, I would probably be a poor addition to this page because I would much rather use Haskell or OCaml. And because I'm using Racket rather than Common Lisp, which looks to be the theme of the page.

Some time ago I put together quarter-baked genetic algorithm tool in Common Lisp. It dynamically generated functions in an attempt to create a modelling function for a sequence of (x,y) pairs.

Good functions would be recombined with other good functions to attempt to get better. It worked fairly well for the trivial stuff I was doing.

Unfortunately, due to getting interrupted and put down for months, it's a mess. I should fix it up tomorrow since I'll have some free time. :-)

Definitely interested in seeing the source code for this

Think of a programming language. It has some built-in data types, and it has so-called literals for each of those. The parser reads in some text and produces a value of some kind. In Lisp, the program itself is really one large "code literal", which happens to be run by the language environment. But there are plenty of other things you can do with programs besides just running them, and generating them is one of those things. Lisp merely provides handy facilities for performing these manipulations.

This may refer to macros, which are essentially programs which write code to other programs before the code is compiled.

Code generators.

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