Subject: Re: Future of Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1995/07/27
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

[John Doner]

|   On the other hand, mathematics uses different sizes and kinds of
|   parentheses, and often infix notation, to enhance readability.  It's
|   not hard to make Lisp allow [ ] and { }, although that's not the
|   standard.

yes, programming the lisp reader is quite easy.

|   Different sizes are out.

not really.  it only depends on how they are represented.

|   So is infix notation.

all you need is a reader macro that parses a delimited expression and
returns a regular prefix form.  in fact, one such package exists that
allows forms like

    $ foo * bar + zot $


    (+ (* foo bar) zot)

I don't use it, so forget where you can find it.  perhaps somebody else
could reiterate that information?

|   When all the smoke clears, though, I think you're right: Lisp is harder
|   to read.  But not a whole lot harder.  And the payoff is that it's easy
|   to remember, easy to learn, and easy for a program to parse (so it's
|   easy to write macros).

add "easy to write with intelligent editors" (such as Emacs).  personally,
I find C, a language I used daily for a decade, and still do some stuff in,
harder to read, write, and generally deal with than Lisp.  I could never
remember the precedence rules in C, and when I tried to learn C++, I was
literally drowning in syntax and an arbitrary semantic mess.  some C++
aficionados think they have a "superior genetic trait" that allows them to
deal with C++'s random residue of a syntax disaster.  (there was actually a
discussion about this on comp.lang.c++.)  if so, I hope we find a cure.
conversely, it could be that dealing with _elegant_ syntaxes is also a
genetically induced preference.

now I use Emacs Lisp and Common Lisp almost exclusively, supplanting the
many Unix utilities I used to use.  when I first saw Perl, my bogometer
blew up, and the proverbial mirror broke.  it could be that I spend most of
my time writing programs that are intended to write programs, and it just
so much easier to deal with a fully delimited prefix language.  I also work
with SGML, and it has similar syntactic properties.

#<Erik 3015861644>
NETSCAPISM /net-'sca-,pi-z*m/ n (1995): habitual diversion of the mind to
    purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from the
    realization that the Internet was built by and for someone else.