Subject: Re: Simple LISP question (sequence of multiple statements) From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 15 Aug 2002 06:38:57 +0000 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Timothy Miller | However, there is one place where I can't determine from the book I | have how to list multiple statements, which is this: | (if (condition) (do something here) (do two somethings here)) | | How do I do two somethings there? I appreciate the intelligent way you arrive at the question. There are multiple ways to do this. You have already seen what is called an "implicit `progn´", where prog-n means that the nth value of a prog is returned. [There is a lot of history here. You also have `prog1´ and `prog2´ which return the first and second values, respectively, of a multi-form body.] An implicit `progn´ occurs in function bodies as you have already seen. You could write (if condition (do something here) (progn (do something-1 here) (do something-2 here) ... (do something-n here))) to use `progn´ explicitly. [If you do this with both branches, some people have invented `then´ and `else´ as local macros that are really `progn´.] Notice how `prog1´, `prog2´ and `progn´ fall out from this example. However, you already know about implicit `progn´s from elsewhere. You already listed function bodies and `cond´ clauses, but also, e.g., in local bindings with `let´, as in (let () (do something-1 here) (do something-2 here)) only the value of the last form is returned. [The empty list () would of course be filled with bindings if you needed any.] The older `prog´ is similar to `let´, except it takes labels. You need not worry about this; I mention it for the sake of completeness and to illustrate how this problem has been solved in many different ways over time. The canonical way these days is with `progn´, but be forewarned that some people hate `progn´ with a passion so have invented a disturbingly non-Lispy version of `if´ that gets rid of it exchange for a lot of other random noise. | Is there some function which, given multiple arguments, executes them and | returns the value of the last one? You could do it with a function, but Common Lisp has found the use of special operators more convenient. Essentially, a `progn´ works just like a function call would, evaluating each argument expression in turn, except that all values are discarded instead of being collected for a function call. The same is true of `let´, which is also a special operator. The name "special operator" comes from the fact that its evaluation rule is special, although in the case of `progn´ it is actually trivially normal. | I wanted to setf a global variable and then return something else, but I | ended up using cond instead which didn't result in the most straight-forward | solution. I tend to prefer `cond´ when the number of branches is indeterminate, `if´ when there are exactly two (such as because the `nil´ should be explicit when the form is used for its value) , and `when´ and `unless´ when there is only one branch that matters. | Any help will be appreciated. I hope the above suffices. | Also, and I'm sure there's a FAQ, and I'm going to go look for it right now, | but I was wondering if anyone had any good suggestions for teaching LISP to | someone who is generally unfamiliar with programming. I'm teaching it to my | wife. Some may think it insane to teach LISP to someone as a first | language, but humor me. :) I think it is the best choice for a first language. Eons ago, I found The Little LISPer absorbingly fascinating. | The book I'm using, by Touretzki, is alright, but it really irritates me | sometimes. It is the only book on Lisp I have declined to buy after looking at it. -- Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder. Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.