the Expression Problem and its solutions - [PROGRAMMING]
zen at freedbms.net
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: https://lwn.net/Articles/768154/
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