August 02, 2007

One For The Geeks

From xkcd, one of the webcomics that I read regularly, it's a comic about the Lisp computer language, which celebrates its fiftieth birthday next year:

... it's funny-yet-true: when I went off to my freshman year at Berkeley, one of the books I took along was the LISP 1.5 manual that my dad bought when he was a CS student at UC Irvine. It didn't do much to help me -- unsurprisingly, some things had changed between LISP 1.5 and the Scheme dialect of Lisp that I was using thirty-one years later -- but it provided a reassuring sense of continuity. Some small part of me hopes that someday my daughter will be a programming geek, and that she can cut her serious-coding teeth on a dialect of Lisp, too.

(Hey, look! Someone's put that now-forty-five-year-old manual up on the Web!)

(What's with the parentheses joke? Lisp syntax is unique for its reliance on lots and lots of parentheses. Here's a tiny code sample taken from the Wikipedia entry on Lisp:

(defun factorial (n)
(if (<= n 1)
(* n (factorial (- n 1)))))

... depending on how deeply-nested you are, it may take you a lot of right-parens in order to finish whatever it is you're doing.)

Posted by Kevin at August 2, 2007 12:28 AM
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