Subject: Re: What Lisp needs to beat Java, etc.
From: (Rob Warnock)
Date: 29 Nov 2000 04:06:57 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <901vd1$3e8qt$>
<> wrote:
|   "Frank A. Adrian" <> wrote:
| > Since most people would not be willing to put in the effort
| > required to make good use of Lisp, adding these people to the world
| > of Lisp users would help neither Lisp NOR the general state of software.
| So, let me understand you, are you saying that Lisp requires MORE work
| to write well than other languages, all else being equal? Wouldn't that
| make Lisp a worse design than, say C++, by your argument?

No. You're missing the "dangerous sharp tool" side of the argument.
You do *not* hand surgical scapels to young children and expect them to
be more "productive" than children with soft, blunt plastic-foam hammers,
but on the other hand you do *not* handicap surgeons by requiring them
to do heart surgery with soft, blunt plastic-foam hammers.

Another analogy: An F-16 makes a *terrible* flight trainer. The controls
are extremely "twitchy". It will instantly kill any raw student you put
in it! ...and in the process, give the F-16 a *terrible* [and completely
undeserved] reputation for being "unsafe". To learn to fly an F-16 safely
you must *already* be a very good pilot, and even then must receive special
training from a good instructor. But there are things you can do (safely!)
with an F-16 you simply *cannot* do with any lesser craft.

Likewise, there are things a good Lisp programmer can do fairly
straightforwardly with Lisp that are difficult-to-impossible to
do with lesser tools, but throwing a poor programmer into Lisp
is likely to drown him (and give Lisp a bad name in the process).

The question of how to identify programmers who have sufficient talent
and how to train them to be good enough to use Lisp effectively (and the
time/expense of that training) is a *different* question from whether
Lisp is worth the effort of learning it. It's definitely worth the effort.


Rob Warnock, 31-2-510
Network Engineering
Silicon Graphics, Inc.		Phone: 650-933-1673
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy.		PP-ASEL-IA
Mountain View, CA  94043