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Re: why not "stripes" in: (let ((zebra 'stripes) ... ; strings vs symbol

From: Emanuel Berg
Subject: Re: why not "stripes" in: (let ((zebra 'stripes) ... ; strings vs symbols?
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2013 19:24:43 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Rustom Mody <address@hidden> writes:

> LISP is worth learning for a different reason — the
> profound enlightenment experience you will have when
> you finally get it. That experience will make you a
> better programmer for the rest of your days, even if
> you never actually use LISP itself a lot.

To learn Lisp and then to never use it sounds like
something the landed aristocracy could do just before
they get executed by a bunch of revolutionaries.

But I too suspect that Lisp is special.

You know when a bunch of kids get together and start
discussing what computer language is "the best". Those
morons can well be very good programmers but they have
zero overview and experience so they obviously think
that their respective languages are "the best" (and in
a sense that is correct, and most definitively the
correct attitude).

So, without doing that, if it could somehow be
quantified and measured what language is the most
expressive, I say Lisp would score very high.

The only thing I can think of that I saw in other
languages and not in Lisp is *pattern matching*:
branching straight off the functions' heads, like it is
possible to do (and a very common practice) in
languages like Erlang, SML, and Haskell. But I suppose
it could be implemented as a Lisp macro if you really
cared for it.

The history of Lisp would be interesting to know in
some detail. I know it came from the US AI/university
world. Which makes sense because AI is basically
searching and modifying data structures. So the
data/code blend fits well, though I don't know if that
is a coincidence or genius or a bit of both. And though
Lisp has university history, it doesn't feel that
"mathy" as for example Haskell and the other stuff
those puritans use. Then there were the "Lisp wars"
with several competing dialects, and finally some
unification efforts with Common Lisp. Today Lisp seems
marginalized apart from the university world, but there
it is treated as a language within the "functional"
paradigm where they are neurotic about
"side-effects". It is not my experience that Lisp is
like that. If you want to do everything with recursion
and set functions no one is stopping you, but I don't
do that, and besides when I write C, I use functions
as well! So while there is truth to both the AI and the
functional approach to Lisp, to me Lisp is a tool that
can be used in many ways, none of which is more
precious than the other.

underground experts united:

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