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[MIT-Scheme-users] MIT/GNU Scheme status

From: Chris Hanson
Subject: [MIT-Scheme-users] MIT/GNU Scheme status
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 14:57:28 -0500
User-agent: IMAIL/1.21; Edwin/3.116; MIT-Scheme/7.7.91

A user recently wrote to me asking

   Is MIT scheme still active?

and since there has been little news on this topic, I'd like to give a
summary of what I think is going on.

For some time now, all development on MIT/GNU Scheme has been done by
me.  I am still making changes to the system on a regular basis, but I
haven't had the time to put together a new release.

However, there has been very little work on the system's
infrastructure in recent years.  These days, my focus is on
application development -- primarily web programming -- and
consequently I've been putting lots of energy into improving the
system to support that activity.

The consequence of this change of focus is that the external world is
starting to leave us behind.  New 64-bit architectures aren't
supported, because porting the compiler is too much work.  Standards
have progressed, but the system hasn't been keeping up with them.

Several things are happening behind the scenes to address these
issues.  First, I have been working a little bit at a time on a new
virtual machine for the system.  This is intended to provide
portability to all modern architectures while preserving most of the
performance of native-code compilation.  I hope to finish this project
this year, but there's still much to be done.  This is an area where I
could use help.

(There is a separate effort by a couple of MIT alumni to port the
compiler to recent-vintage Macs running OS X.  I don't know how far
that has gone.)

Second, I've split the empty list from #f, so the system is finally
compliant with the ISO/IEEE Scheme standard.  It is mostly compliant
with R5RS, but there are a few problematic areas.  I have implemented
several SRFIs, but there are many more that would be useful have.
Again, this is an area where help would be appreciated.

Third, the documentation has been falling further behind, as it
usually does since it's not as much fun as coding.  Help in updating
it would be useful.

To summarize, MIT/GNU Scheme is _not_ dead, but it's awfully sleepy.
I will continue to support it for the foreseeable future, but due to
lack of interest I don't want to make large infrastructural changes.
I _am_ willing to support such efforts by others, however.  I will
continue to make releases as time permits, but if you want to see more
activity, you'll have to help out.  So drop me a line if you're

Happy hacking,


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