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Lisp in Small Pieces
Lisp in Small Pieces (Paperback)
by Christian Queinnec (Author), Kathleen Callaway (Translator) "THIS chapter introduces a basic interpreter that will serve as the foundation for most of this book..." ( more )
Key Phrases: incorrect arity , env fenv , mutable global variables , Exercises Exercise , Recommended Reading , Meroon Meroon ( more... )
( 4 customer reviews )                                                                                                                                                 

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Editorial Reviews
Book Description
This is a comprehensive account of the semantics and the implementation of the whole Lisp family of languages, namely Lisp, Scheme and related dialects. It describes 11 interpreters and 2 compilers, including very recent techniques of interpretation and compilation. The book is in two parts. The first starts from a simple evaluation function and enriches it with multiple name spaces, continuations and side-effects with commented variants, while at the same time the language used to define these features is reduced to a simple lambda-calculus. Denotational semantics is then naturally introduced. The second part focuses more on implementation techniques and discusses precompilation for fast interpretation: threaded code or bytecode; compilation towards C. Some extensions are also described such as dynamic evaluation, reflection, macros and objects. This will become the new standard reference for people wanting to know more about the Lisp family of languages: how they work, how they are implemented, what their variants are and why such variants exist. The full code is supplied (and also available over the Net). A large bibliography is given as well as a considerable number of exercises. Thus it may also be used by students to accompany second courses on Lisp or Scheme.

Language Notes
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Inside This Book ( learn more )
First Sentence:
THIS chapter introduces a basic interpreter that will serve as the foundation for most of this book.  Read the first page
Key Phrases - Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs): ( learn more )
incorrect arity, env fenv, mutable global variables, env deny, current lexical environment, macro factorial, toplevel loop, function funcall, arity tail, cdr env, env variables values, function calling protocol, special form lambda, macro expander, cdr exps, env names values, cdr tree, cdr names, unsigned long number, exogenous mode, value arity, cdr fields, new special form, car exps, preceding interpreter
Key Phrases - Capitalized Phrases (CAPs): ( learn more )
Exercises Exercise, Recommended Reading, Meroon Meroon, Caml Light, Common Loops, Polygon Point
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover | Surprise Me!
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4 Reviews
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful:
The best book available on Lisp implementation , December 22, 1999
By  Peter Norvig (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This is an excellent book on Lisp implementation. You'll get a lot out of it, whether you are interested in writing compilers and interpreters (for Lisp or any language) or whether you just want to see how Lisp works. It is the modern day successor to Allen's "Anatomy of Lisp".

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
Good book on functional languages. , November 28, 1999
By  Ray Dillinger (San Francisco Bay Area) - See all my reviews
This is the English Translation of a book originally published in French, under the title _Les_Langages_Lisp_.

In it, Quinniec covers a variety of different approaches to interpretation and compilation. Typically, an idea is presented with a chapter discussing the issues related to it -- then in the following chapter, a compiler or interpreter that implements it correctly. He covers compilation to C, compilation to bytecodes, direct interpretation, token-reduced interpretation, denotational semantics, lambda-calculus, continuations, macros, and an object system. It's well-written and engaging, and unlike some translations, the English is handled very well. The primary language being considered (and used) is Scheme -- arguably the easiest LISP dialect to implement and the hardest to implement well.

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
The future history of programming , December 18, 2005
I'm not a professional reviewer. But I program a lot, and for a living. After more than 15 years of experience in algorithm development and user interface design, to name some extremes, I get the feeling that "traditional" computer programming languages like C (C++, C#, Objective C) and Pascal (Modula, Oberon, ADA)
and even oldtimers as Cobol and Fortran tend to develop, or rather mature, into languages getting closer and closer to Lisp, Algol, and their ultimate offspring, Scheme.
This is not without reason.
But although the many qualities of Lisp have long since been known in academia, they need time and, more important, good reference material, to find their way into the real world.
Lisp programmers know the value of everything, but the cost of nothing, it is said. Christian Queinnec neatly fills the gap in our knowledge in a book that is a hard read because of the density of the content, but also a fun book because all the source is there (available through the Internet, of course) to experiment with.
You will not only gain insight into the workings of your Lisp system. You will gain insight into the basic elements of computer programming languages and their reason for being, their implementation, and the benefits and costs they will bring you.
All in all, one of the best books on Lisp I have ever almost, but not completely grokked.

I sincerely believe that tomorrow's programming languages, whether they be called C** or Delphi 2010, will be closer to current Lisp than to current C or Pascal, and a way to efficiently implement these languages is available here and now.

The book covers all standard material like direct interpretation, compilation towards a virtual machine using bytecodes, and compilation to C. New material is found in the chapter on macro's , a subject that has regained much interest of late. A broad variety of programming styles is used to illustrate all concepts.

There is only one drawback to the book. It won't teach you Lisp, or Scheme. That is, unless you already know it.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews

Very, very good.
An unexpectedly good book.

If you're interested in implementation choices for Scheme and the Lisp family of languages, this is an amazing book. Read more

Published on June 15, 2001

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