Coding with a LISP

By | March 12, 2006

A few years ago, I learnt LISP at university. Just for a semester, write a poetry generator, things like that. All pretty simple. I didn’t get into it much at the time, beyond what I had to, but I do remember thinking that it looked like quite a powerful and fun language.

A while ago, someone on Slashdot mentioned LISP and referred to a book that was online for learning it. So I checked it out, and it seems to be pretty good. I’m about half way through it. It has the large amount of basic instruction in the language, which is always necessary. However, after a while of that, it has a chapter on ‘Practical’ stuff, which involves implementing actual code, which is a good change, and a nice place to read chunks of code, put them into the interpreter, and play with them a bit.

Normally when reading books on programming languages, I get frustrated when they start explaining “This is a variable. You can store values in them. You can also change them. …”, as it’s a concept I’ve seen over and over, and so is quite boring. This isn’t the case here, I don’t know if it’s because LISP is different enough from the languages I usually use that it seems new, or the book just manages to avoid these kinds of problems.

If I see it lying around (or maybe even if I don’t, and I just get paid enough one day), I think I might pick up a dead tree copy.

Oh, and the book itself? Practical Common Lisp.

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