the Expression Problem and its solutions - [PROGRAMMING]

Zenaan Harkness zen at
Sat Oct 27 04:36:48 PDT 2018

On Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 01:25:43PM +1100, Zenaan Harkness wrote:

> Enter the White Knight, Clojure, with syntax so powerful only Lisp
> dialects raise their heads in a collective superiority sneer.

> (Observing Java's predicates and other such Lisp wanna be syntax,
>  it's rather fugly IMEHO.)



God's one and only son's programming language. The alpha and the
omega of conceptual reisms, the ultimate well for "mundane language
of the du jour" enhancements and new features, the unassailable,
maximally minimal, ultimately flexible in its sublime simplicity, the
inherently superior and every other superlative a humble language
such as English could even imagine...

... or ... well, actually yes, it's all these things and more, a
mathematically pure mind expanding logical construct of meta syntax
for the construction of logical constructs - so serenely ...


List just does that to you … draws out superlatives.

Well someone noticed this trait and ... attempts ... to call it out,
before falling smack into the same problem.

Woe be ye who enter here, into a twisty little maze of ye own
creation from fundaments so bracketingly voluptuous and enticingly
paleo, one wonders ... ah, one wonders ... oh firetruck it! Just
read it already:

How Lisp Became God's Own Programming Language
Languages 14 Oct 2018

  … Wouldn’t it be great if you could convince everyone that your new
  language had divine powers? But how would you even do that? How
  does a programming language come to be known as a font of hidden

  How did Lisp get to be this way?

  Theory A: The Axiomatic Language
  John McCarthy, Lisp’s creator, did not originally intend for Lisp
  to be an elegant distillation of the principles of computation.
  But, after one or two fortunate insights and a series of
  refinements, that’s what Lisp became. Paul Graham—we will talk
  about him some more later—has written that, with Lisp, McCarthy
  “did for programming something like what Euclid did for
  geometry.”(2) People might see a deeper meaning in Lisp because
  McCarthy built Lisp out of parts so fundamental that it is hard to
  say whether he invented it or discovered it.

[ You didn't -really- think an article poking fun at Lisp's Godly
  status could get away from such superlatives? :D ]

  … In 1960, McCarthy published his famous paper on Lisp called
  “Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation
  by Machine.” By that time, the language had been pared down to such
  a degree that McCarthy realized he had the makings of “an elegant
  mathematical system” and not just another programming language.(13)
  He later wrote that the many simplifications that had been made to
  Lisp turned it “into a way of describing computable functions much
  neater than the Turing machines or the general recursive
  definitions used in recursive function theory.”(14) In his paper,
  he therefore presented Lisp both as a working programming language
  and as a formalism for studying the behavior of recursive

  … That Lisp can be specified by such a small sequence of basic
  rules no doubt contributes to its mystique. Graham has called
  McCarthy’s paper an attempt to “axiomatize computation.”(15)

  Theory B: Machine of the Future
  … The Symbolics 3600 cost $110,000 in 1983.16 So most people could
  only marvel at the power of Lisp machines and the wizardry of their
  Lisp-writing operators from afar.

  Theory C: Learn to Program
  … In 1985, MIT professors Harold Abelson and Gerald Sussman, along
  with Sussman’s wife, Julie Sussman, published a textbook called
  Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. The textbook
  introduced readers to programming using the language Scheme, a
  dialect of Lisp. …
  SICP took Lisp and showed how it could be used to illustrate deep,
  almost philosophical concepts in the art of computer programming.
  Those concepts were general enough that any language could have
  been used, but SICP’s authors chose Lisp. As a result, Lisp’s
  reputation was augmented by the notoriety of this bizarre and
  brilliant book, which has intrigued generations of programmers (and
  also become a very strange meme).
  Lisp had always been “McCarthy’s elegant formalism”; now it was
  also “that language that teaches you the hidden secrets of

and on it goes...

PS: Found courtesy LWN Brief items:

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