What has Lisp done for you?

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What has Lisp done for you?

Postby Cantheman » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:22 am

Hi all,
Like many others (I guess) my journey in Lisp land began with reading the articles and book of Paul Graham.
I have to agree with him. Programming in Lisp is actually really fun.
I am not really a Lisp programmer yet though , still much to learn but to motivate myself even more I'd like to ask you guys what Lisp has done for you as a programmer.
Are you a better programmer?
Did you do your own project /business in Lisp?
Do you use it at work?

Whatever Lisp had done for you please post it here. It might motivate others than me.

Cheers,
Cantheman
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Re: What has Lisp done for you?

Postby jstoddard » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:37 am

Lisp has reinvigorated my interest in programming. It has caused a "paradigm shift" in the way I look at programming. To get away from fancy terminology and into actual substance:

Are you a better programmer?


Yes, I think so. I don't think my programming style was bad, at least until I started working with PHP, but in my brief experiences with Lisp I've been able to see clearly many things which can be improved in my coding style. I've been exposed to "new" styles, such as functional programming (having mostly worked in C and PHP, certain programming paradigms never came up in a serious way), in a way where I can use them where they're effective and ignore them when I need to.

Did you do your own project /business in Lisp?


I've done a handful of small projects in Lisp, getting a feel for the language. Some I've posted about on this board. I've done some n-body functions, for example, and a very minimalist content management system that powers my website. I'm currently putting together a 2d adventure game as a way to become comfortable with lispbuilder-sdl.

Do you use it at work?


I will be. In my current job I have the say in what languages and technologies get used, so we're going to be rewriting one of our systems in Common Lisp as a trial. If that works out well, perhaps many of our future projects will be in the language.
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Re: What has Lisp done for you?

Postby Cantheman » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:08 pm

That's just awesome , thanks for a great reply.
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Re: What has Lisp done for you?

Postby Duke » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:55 pm

Cantheman wrote:Are you a better programmer?

Yes... though that isn't saying much.

Like jstoddard, I found that Lisp reawakened my interest in programming.

Lisp, I'm told, was originally created as way of writing math in a way that can be understood by a computer. I think there's something profound in this idea: math models the universe, and Lisp expresses math... Of course, that's true of most programming languages to some extent, but the observation seems apt with regards to Lisp, more so than languages whose design is slanted toward "powerful syntax" or what-have-you.

Lisp has, if nothing else, provided a handful of exciting or mind-boggling moments where I realize that certain things are possible.

I can write a realtime game— with an event loop that doesn't return control to the REPL until termination— and use a REPL with it anyway, through Swank.

I can write a program whose output is a Lisp form, and whose input is that Lisp form. Everyone has heard that Lisp is an "AI language" or that it's somehow well-suited to AI; the ability to (hypothetically, at least— haven't tried this yet!) use forms as primitives in genetic programming could be one reason for that perception.

These are things I'd have assumed to be impossible and/or insane when I was just writing C. Now I just expect things to be generally magical.


Then there's Emacs. Aside from efficiency in editing, I know that if I need to do certain tasks, like operating over a series of links, I can either do it like a stooge in Firefox, manually clicking everything, or I can set up a keyboard macro in emacs-w3m. If the macro doesn't cut it, Elisp will. Being able to speak Lisp to Emacs is a huge asset, IMO.
"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." -Epictetus
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