Subject: Re: Learning programming languages
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/07/22
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Kucera, Rich" <>
| Well, what did the primitives look like before CLOS?

  you speak as if "primitive" is an intrinsic quality of something.

| There must have been something.

  where did you get that idea?

  once upon a time, both CAR and LDB were machine instructions.  these
  days, CAR may be a single instruction on some machine and several or even
  a function call on others.  LDB is usually a shift and a mask on RISC
  processors, and byte pointers are probably not first-class objects like
  they used to be, so it's fast and inlined only for constant byte
  specifiers on fixnums.  for instance.  Common Lisp has no concept of
  forcing an implementation to make certain decision about which is
  primitive and which is built from primitive.  for all you know, all the
  functions and types in Common Lisp may be "primitives", or none, which
  may be the case in a hosted (interpreted) environment.

| I know it's irrelevant and burdensome to ask questions from a Java point
| of view, where it does make a difference on an application level whether
| something is an "int" or an Integer.  Perhaps my learning would go faster
| if I were to dispense with irrelevant knowledge, forget what I know and
| try not to ask any questions...

  you should update your knowledge and understanding of Java when you get
  answers to your questions about Common Lisp.  the problem with most of
  the questions from another world is that the requestors tend to forget
  that their old world is more in need of an update than the new world.  it
  is unfortunately true that it often makes better sense to suspend all
  that you know from one world when entering another, just to see that you
  arrive at some "universal truths" while the details are different and
  some ways of getting at them may be from radically different directions.

@1999-07-22T00:37:33Z -- pi billion seconds since the turn of the century