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Re: An infix syntax for Scheme ...

From: Andrew Bernard
Subject: Re: An infix syntax for Scheme ...
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2022 11:50:55 +1000

Hello Jean,

While this is interesting, I dispute the underlying assumption. Why do you say infix notation is easier for beginners? There's no evidence for this. And there is a huge amount of evidence against it. For very many years MIT taught computer science 6.001 exclusively in Scheme to freshmen with _no_ programming experience and they all took to it like to ducks to water. There was never any complaint that it was hard to learn. This is a well known fact. Now, of course, MIT freshman are the creme de la creme, and the course lecturers for many years were Abelson and Sussman, authors of SICP. Nevertheless, there is nothing intrinsically _easier_ about infix languages compared to LISP and Scheme. What one could say is that people with previous experience of infix languages may feel disoriented. But as with music, it's only a matter of familiarity. And people have noted that when learning LISP there is always initial perplexity and then almost everyone undergoes a sudden epiphany where it all makes sense. Many have written about that experience.

I'd argue for leaving Scheme alone and encouraging people to go ahead with it as it. With an editor like emacs it makes all the parentheses easy. [But then there are people who think emacs is too hard! SIgh.]

I do a lot of work in Haskell. It's superb for making domain specific languages. On odd days I think it would be great to make a DSL for Lilypond. Then I come to my senses by the afternoon!

While I am not an expert in pedagogy, I have a hunch that starting people off on a specialised infix variant of a Scheme-like language may make it _harder_ for them to learn Scheme when the time comes.

I'm not sure why everything has to be approachable for beginners nowadays. Perhaps that's why Latin in no longer taught. It's not easily approachable by beginners! Yes we need more developers in the Lilypond community, but they really do have to be conversant with lamda calculus and the lot, not something similar to Python.


On 10/08/2022 7:45 am, Jean Abou Samra wrote:

Some time ago, Jacques Menu asked on the French-speaking equivalent of
this list if it would be possible to create an infix syntax for Scheme
that would be more approachable for beginners.

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