Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Memories of Lots of Infuriatingly Stupid Parentheses (LISP)

Cartoon from xkcd.com

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard anyone mention the LISP programming language. These days, the only thing you need to know about LISP is that it doesn’t stand for

Lots of Infuriatingly Stupid Parentheses

... though it’s a pretty good description. The curious can go and investigate Wikipedia or lispers.org. The less curious can be satisfied with the following example.

(append '(1 2 3) '() '(a) '(5 6))

;Output: (1 2 3 a 5 6)

The following cartoon from xkcd.com sums it up (not the first time AiB has borrowed from the “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”).

Lisp logo

Eric Raymond is attributed with the quote

“Lisp is worth learning for 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.”

I think it’s unintentionally humorous. While I had a lot of time for Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar when it first appeared in the late nineties, he was more disappointing in real life at a Linux User Group lecture in City of London University a few years ago. (Much like my experience of Richard Stallman when he spoke in Belfast last spring.)

No comments: