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Paperback COMMON LISP: The language Book

ISBN: 093237641X

ISBN13: 9780932376411

COMMON LISP: The language

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Book Overview

The defacto standard - a must-have for all LISP programmers. In this greatly expanded edition of the defacto standard, you'll learn about the nearly 200 changes already made since original publication... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

this is the "bible" of common lisp

to enjoy this book, you must be aware of what it is and is not. it is not intended for learning lisp. it *is* intended for thoroughly documenting the language, and steele is perhaps the best writer alive in this field. his thoroughness, attention to detail, and copy-editing skills are nearly impossible to beat -- it's not a coincidence that he was chosen to write the standard for java, based on his work on this book.

Perhaps the best computer language reference ever written

"Common Lisp, The Language" (or CLTL) is an industrial-strength language reference for a somewhat esoteric computer language (in the view of most programmers today), so this tome is definitely not for the novice, nor for the faint of heart. However, if you are a true devotee of Common Lisp, then it is hard to imagine how you can escape this most sacred of texts. I own two dog-eared and heavily marked-up copies of the book, from which I have gotten my money's worth many times over. For years one or the other of these copies has been a permanent fixture on my desk, beside my keyboard. It is an invaluable reference for serious Common Lisp programmers.However, as a previous reviewer pointed out, CLTL is strictly a reference, not a text. If you attempt to use it as an introductory text, you will hate both the book and the language, which will be your loss. To learn the language, I would recommend either "Lisp", by Winston and Horn, or "ANSI Common Lisp", by Paul Graham. After perhaps several years of serious Lisp programming, you will most likely find yourself studying the pages of CLTL, at which point you will appreciate what Guy Steele has succeeded in accomplishing in this slender volume of 1029 pages. Common Lisp is an enormous language, with over 800 built-in functions, many of which have complicated semantics and dozens of keywords that alter those semantics. Considering the daunting task of documenting this language, Steele deserves a medal. (In fact, the book has received various awards.) Common Lisp was an integral part of several classes that I taught at Caltech for many years; I had students write compilers, interpreters, theorem provers, symbolic manipulators, numerical solvers, graph algorithms, etc. When you attack such a wide range of problems with a single language, you appreciate how rich Common Lisp is, and how well suited it is to all these tasks (yes, even numerical computation). But to get the most out of the language, it's necessary to tap into its more esoteric functions, which is where Steele's book is very handy.I can think of few topics in the field of computer science that have as rich a history as the language Lisp. It's difficult to present a meaningful view of the language, especially in it's "Common" incarnation, without delving into some of that history. Steele does this exceedingly well in CLTL, although I can understand how it can be off-putting to some; it adds bulk to an already formidable tome, and at times seems to clutter up what ought to be a cut-and-dried presentation of syntax and semantics. However, unless you subscribe to the mystical view that Lisp was created by divine fiat (a theory that is gaining popularity), then you will inevitably have questions as to why things were done in one way and not another. The answers provide insight into language design (or at least the workings of the X3J13 committee), and at times a better mastery of Common Lisp. For those who do not care for such detail

Differs from the standard

Readers should be aware that is is not the official specification of ANSI Common Lisp. This book was published before the standardization work was finished, and the final standard disagrees with this book on a number of issues.Don't let that stop you from buying this book, though; it is an excellent read, contains a wealth of useful information, and is funny as well. Just make sure you use the standard (available freely on the web as the "Hyperspec") as your authorative reference.

A Thorough Reference Guide to Common Lisp.

Pros:Every single existing CL function is there (AFAIK), with rationale and explanation of some of the context of why/how it came about. Even if you're not a Lisper by trade, you'll get astonishingly many hints about how all of Lisp came to be. Even if what is described is the "Common Lisp" dialect of Lisp, you'll get as many rewards as hours you're willing to put in the study of this fascinating world. (I was taught Lisp some 20+ years ago and left it on the way-side for way too long. Now is the time to get serious about programming. -- I've written hundreds of thousands of lines of C, assembler, Java, (arg...) C++, all of which I consider a waste of time now. If only I could go back in time ... --Cons:I wish this single 1000+ pages book was split into two or more manageable volumes, that's my only gripe.

The Bible of LISP

Steele's book is a technical definition of Common LISP. For users with some experience in LISP programming and an experimental approach to computing, this book is a gold mine of information from -- practical to bizarre.
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