Learning Common Lisp

As is frequently the case with such things (at least with me) I have decided, for no compelling reason whatsoever, that I will learn to program in the Common Lisp programming language. It might perhaps have something to do with the fact that I stumbled upon the following impassioned pleas for that language and the functional style of programming, all of which are in my opinion well worth your while should you choose to spend the next hour or so of your life reading them, even if you have no plans of learning Lisp:

  • Functional Programming For The Rest of Us - an introduction to functional programming designed to appeal to us imperative grunt programmers.

  • The Nature of Lisp - an admirable attempt at showing to the Lisp noob what its all really about.

  • Beating The Averages - if you thought Lisp was only for "intellectual" academicians, then you've got to hear from this guy who made, like 50 million bucks by selling a piece of software to Yahoo - and guess what he wrote it in?

  • If Lisp is So Great - tries to answer this question: if Lisp is so great, why don't more people use it?

This being my blog and everything, I plan to use it to post what I hope will be a series of entries chronicling my experiments with Common Lisp. There is frequent reference in popular Lisp literature to this so called moment of enlightenment that you apparently experience at some point as you work your way through the language. If this occurs with me, well, you'll know about it!

Here's what I am using to learn the thing:

  • Practical Common Lisp by Peter Seibel - a great free book that teaches you ANSI Common Lisp
  • CLISP - a free open source implementation of the ANSI Common Lisp language (running on Cygwin on Windows boxes - just remember to select the "clisp" package when you install Cygwin)

Here's what this dude called Eric Raymond had to say about Lisp:

Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days...

I intend to personally find out if there's any truth to this or if Eric was just high when he wrote it (OK, so I do have a reason for learning Common Lisp - I never said I'll never contradict myself you know).

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