Subject: Re: (describe-differences "Scheme" "Common Lisp") From: Erik Naggum <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 1998/09/13 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.scheme Message-ID: <email@example.com> * firstname.lastname@example.org (David Steuber "The Interloper") | Meanwhile, could someone please tell me the differences between Scheme | and Common Lisp? I am interested in syntax, primitive functions (like | cons, car, cdr, etc), philosophical differences, size of interpreter | implementation, that sort of thing. the difference is easily observed to be cultural. you cannot compare cultures, you can only critique them. the Common Lisp is generally very welcoming -- proof of that is that all the good ideas in Scheme were adopted in Common Lisp, but none of the bad ones, which Scheme sadly has refused to let go of. | I keep getting suggestions to consider Scheme for a scripting language. | There must be something to it. Scheme as a culture is much more combative than Common Lisp. Schemers fight each other over how unclean they are, and only the purest of pure are admitted into the language -- only causing much _more_ unclean code to live in "user space", instead. of course they fight everybody else with this cleanliness obsession, too: they have this _odd_ need to tell people to use Scheme instead of Common Lisp and impute to Common Lisp all of the unhealthy properties of Scheme were it ever to become as big and supremely useful to as many programmers and uses as Common Lisp is, but Scheme does _not_ scale well. Scheme's beauty is that easily achieved by the immature, like kittens, puppies, baby seals, etc -- it's like a pedophile whose arrested sexual development has removed from him the ability to find attraction in the mature. avoid Scheme, but do know it first. the same goes for other languages that made seriously misguided decisions at one point or another in their youth, like C, Perl, etc. they have their uses, but the chance they overlap with your needs is _very_ small. yet, you must learn to eschew their mistakes: "small is beautiful" is actually reversed: it is ver often the case the beautiful is small, but mere lack of size is no guarantee of beauty. absence of features is _not_ good. unless, that is, you're into job security and reimplementing several kinds of wheels in incompatible ways -- then you will find Scheme even better than C and Perl. _nothing_ is standard in Scheme, except for the ridiculously small language core. it also appears to be much more fun to implement Scheme than to actually use it. the useful Scheme systems are often larger than the comparable Common Lisp systems, and this is no accident. small languages require more verbiage to express the same ideas than large languages do, and on top of that much smaller parts of the system has been left to people who were paid _only_ to implement fundamentals well and optimize them heavily. small languages violate the concept of division of labor. only fools and geniuses insist on implementing their own languages, and you can never tell which is which until afterwards. in Scheme, as in C, every programmer has to be a genius, but often comes out a fool because he is so far from competent at every task required. I think I dislike Scheme more because of the way Scheme folks denigrate Common Lisp, which they invariably haven't used, than anything else. a language that does that to good people's minds should carry a warning from the Surgeon General. I know C very well and Scheme well. I became exhausted over the prospect of doing the same low-level cruft over and over and over. Scheme is often worse than C in this regard, because you will mostly find interpreted Scheme environments, and abstraction carries a heavy performance penalty, so you need to be much too clever. (this is like byte-compiled Common Lisps, which penalize you severely for using your own functions instead of the internal functions that are very heavily optimized.) if you really want to implement your own language, implement Scheme. if you really want to _use_ a good language, choose Common LIsp. corollary: implement Scheme in Common Lisp. #:Erik -- http://www.naggum.no/spam.html is about my spam protection scheme and how to guarantee that you reach me. in brief: if you reply to a news article of mine, be sure to include an In-Reply-To or References header with the message-ID of that message in it. otherwise, you need to read that page.