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BIG successes of Lisp (was ...)

In the context of LATEX, some Pythonista asked what the big
successes of Lisp were. I think there were at least three *big*
successes.

a. orbitz.com web site uses Lisp for algorithms, etc.
b. Yahoo store was originally written in Lisp.
c. Emacs

The issues with these will probably come up, so I might as well
mention them myself (which will also make this a more balanced
post)

a. AFAIK Orbitz frequently has to be shut down for maintenance
(read "full garbage collection" - I'm just guessing: with
generational garbage collection, you still have to do full
garbage collection once in a while, and on a system like that
it can take a while)

b. AFAIK, Yahoo Store was eventually rewritten in a non-Lisp.
Why? I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you :)

c. Emacs has a reputation for being slow and bloated. But then
it's not written in Common Lisp.

Are ViaWeb and Orbitz bigger successes than LATEX? Do they
have more users? It depends. Does viewing a PDF file made
with LATEX make you a user of LATEX? Does visiting Yahoo
store make you a user of ViaWeb?

For the sake of being balanced: there were also some *big*
failures, such as Lisp Machines. They failed because
they could not compete with UNIX (SUN, SGI) in a time when
performance, multi-userism and uptime were of prime importance.
(Older LispM's just leaked memory until they were shut down,
newer versions overcame that problem but others remained)

Another big failure that is often _attributed_ to Lisp is AI,
of course. But I don't think one should blame a language
for AI not happening. Marvin Mins ky, for example,
blames Robotics and Neural Networks for that.
Jul 18 '05
303 17522
"Francis Avila" <fr***********@ yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<vo******* *****@corp.supe rnews.com>...
"Christian Lynbech" <ch************ ***@ericsson.co m> wrote in message

<snip an enormous long bit of post and re-post>

I believe people don't like Lisp because the Lisp community keeps
writing long, whiny, threads about why people don't like Lisp -- and
posting them in groups that concern entirely different languages.
Jul 18 '05 #51
In article <DL************ ********@comcas t.com>,
"Terry Reedy" <tj*****@udel.e du> wrote:
Did all the LMI companies adopt the same version of Lisp so an outside
Lisper could write one program and sell it to run on all? Or did they
each adopt proprietary versions so they could monopolize what turned
out to be dried-up ponds? Again, did they all adopt uniform formats
for distribution media, such as floppy disks, so that developers could
easily distribute to all? Or did they differentiate to monopolize?


(LMI is a name of a Lisp machine company)

Well, all did adopt Common Lisp. The reason for Common Lisp
was to come up with a common Lisp and work against the
fragmentation of the Lisp language. Some very large
software packages (like KEE) were able to run on all
of those. But much of the software has been developed
before Common Lisp (mid 80) in the 70s.
Btw., floppies were not used in the early times - the
machines had tape drives instead.
Jul 18 '05 #52
A. Lloyd Flanagan wrote:
"Francis Avila" <fr***********@ yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<vo******* *****@corp.supe rnews.com>...
"Christian Lynbech" <ch************ ***@ericsson.co m> wrote in message


<snip an enormous long bit of post and re-post>

I believe people don't like Lisp because the Lisp community keeps
writing long, whiny, threads about why people don't like Lisp -- and
posting them in groups that concern entirely different languages.


To recap: Someone asked whether it would make sense to add macros to
Python. He specifically cross-posted this to c.l.l in order to get an
opinion from users of a language that has a long history of supporting
macros.

Some strong claims were made why macros might have been the reason that
Lisp has failed. Lispers dispute that macros are bad in this way and
that Lisp has already failed. That's just a natural progression of such
a discussion.
Pascal

Jul 18 '05 #53
jo****@corporat e-world.lisp.de (Rainer Joswig) writes:
The animations for the ground breaking TRON movie were done on Lisp
machines.


Many sources say TRON were made using the one and only Foonly F1,
which was a PDP-10 clone.

--
Lars Brinkhoff, Services for Unix, Linux, GCC, HTTP
Brinkhoff Consulting http://www.brinkhoff.se/
Jul 18 '05 #54


A. Lloyd Flanagan wrote:
"Francis Avila" <fr***********@ yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<vo******* *****@corp.supe rnews.com>...
"Christian Lynbech" <ch************ ***@ericsson.co m> wrote in message


<snip an enormous long bit of post and re-post>

I believe people don't like Lisp because the Lisp community keeps
writing long, whiny, threads about why people don't like Lisp -- and
posting them in groups that concern entirely different languages.


Whoa, that is a rather unpleasant addition to the archives.

What part of the subject line do you not understand? Just ignore us.

Python shares a lot of DNA with Lisp; maybe some Pythonistas would be
interested in knowing their Roots.

Especially if they really like Python and want to enjoy many of its
qualities while undertaking something requiring a full-blown
general-purpose language, they might benefit from knowing that the AI
winter and Lisp's loss of mindshare were accidents of history, not signs
of some flaw in the language.

People don't like Lisp because of misconceptions, and threads like that
help dispel those. That has to be a Good Thing, because NGs like this
are where Early Adopters like Pythonistas learn new things to explore,
even when those things were first conceived in 1956.

kenny

--
http://tilton-technology.com
What?! You are a newbie and you haven't answered my:
http://alu.cliki.net/The%20Road%20to%20Lisp%20Survey

Jul 18 '05 #55
On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 17:38:23 +0200, an***@vredegoor .doge.nl (Anton
Vredegoor) wrote:
Stephen Horne <$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$@$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$.co.uk > wrote:
Asperger syndrome inflexibility is a different thing. If you were
constantly overloaded (from lack of intuition about what is going on,
thus having to figure out everything consciously), I expect you would
probably cling too much to what you know as well.


It is tempting to claim that my post was implying Aspergers to be
potentially *more* flexible because of lack of innateness, however
knowing next to nothing about Aspergers and making wild claims,
linking it to anthropology and computer science, may be a bit prone to
making oneself misunderstood and to possibly hurting people
inadvertentl y in the process of formulating some consistent theory. So
I'd rather apologize for any inconveniences and confusion produced
sofar, and humbly ask my post to be ignored.


No offence was taken.

I could be tempted to claim that people with Aspergers would be more
flexible than other people, *if* they didn't have to deal with a world
full of normal people.

I suspect that this would be just as wrong, though.

The tendency is that less innateness = more flexibility, but only in
healthy individuals. People with Asperger syndrome have lost a subset
of innate social abilities - but not all of them, and we haven't all
lost the same ones. We have less innate abilities, but we are not
adapted to have less innate abilities. When neurological development
processes break down, there is no order to the abilities that remain
and no guarentee that they will work together.

Learning helps fill the gaps, but it isn't magic.
--
Steve Horne

steve at ninereeds dot fsnet dot co dot uk
Jul 18 '05 #56
On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 09:41:31 -0700, Dave Kuhlman <dk******@rexx. com>
wrote:
Asperger's syndrome? -- I did a search and read about it. And,
all this time I thought I was a *programmer*. If I had only known
that I've had Asperger's disorder, I could have saved myself all
those many years of debugging code. It's been fun though,
especially with Python, even if the DSM IV does authoritively say
that I'm just crazy.


:-)

Actually, getting back to being serious...

There is a common misconception that Asperger syndrome is 'mild
autism'. In a sense this is correct, but in terms of causes it is
fairer to say that there are two types of neurological damage. One
damages social intelligence and is present in autism and asperger
syndrome. The other damages general intelligence and is present in
mental retardation and the certain types of autism. High functioning
autism and asperger syndrome are much the same thing, and some people
with asperger syndrome should be considered low functioning - low
general intelligence isn't the only way to become low functioning
('executive function' deficit - another prefrontal cortex issue -
seems to be a major cause of the 'low functioning' label).

Basically, the original Kanner autism is in fact a combination of two
disorders - mental retardation plus a disorder which includes all the
autism features that are not mental retardation. Because the parts of
the brain involved are close together, there is a significant
statistical link.

MR has a cutoff point at an IQ of 'around' 70 (there is room for
judgement, and additional symptoms are required beyond the low IQ),
but the IQ scale is continuous.

What I am getting at is that if you were to read that people with
mental retardation 'find academic study difficult', you might well
decide that you were retarded - after all, we all find academic study
difficult at some point, after all. But you may believe that even if
your IQ were actually 130.

There have been attempts to create a scale of autistic symptoms. You
might like to take the AQ (autistic quotient) here, for instance...

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

This test was one of those used in screening prior to my diagnosis. My
score then was 38. I just took it again and got 42. I guess I'm
feeling a bit more pessimistic these days.

What would it look like to have asperger syndrome, but milder?

http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/putnampaper.html

So basically, yes, some of the autistic symptoms seem an aweful lot
like things that are common in normal people. Women will probably tend
to think that all men have asperger syndrome. And nerds will have more
autistic tendencies than other men. And many autistic symptoms can
arise through other causes.

But that doesn't mean Asperger syndrome doesn't exist. You can see the
effects of the neural damage on a PET or MRI scanner, so it is very
hard to claim it doesn't exist.
BTW - the criteria used for my diagnosis are the CLASS criteria, which
are stricter than the DSM IV criteria. They were very interested, for
instance, in symptoms such as my headbanging when I was 3 years old.

I don't think that is particularly typical of programmers.

Neither is the fact that almost everyone with Asperger syndrome
reaches adulthood with severe trauma related disorders due to the
stress in their childhood.
--
Steve Horne

steve at ninereeds dot fsnet dot co dot uk
Jul 18 '05 #57
dan
Google ate my long post, so I'll make it simple.

Lisp failed (yes, it did) because of the parentheses. Normal people
can't parse 13 close-parens easily. Functional notation is
non-intuitive and hard to read.

The world is moving in the direction of languages like Python, that
fit naturally with how we speak and write.
"Francis Avila" <fr***********@ yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<vo******* *****@corp.supe rnews.com>...
"Christian Lynbech" <ch************ ***@ericsson.co m> wrote in message
news:of******** ****@situla.ted .dk.eu.ericsson .se...
>>>> "mike420" == mike420 <mi*****@ziplip .com> writes:


It is still a question of heated debate what actually killed the lisp
machine industry.

I have so far not seen anybody dipsuting that they were a marvel of
technical excellence, sporting stuff like colour displays, graphical
user interfaces and laser printers way ahead of anybody else.


I think what helped kill the lisp machine was probably lisp: many people
just don't like lisp, because it is a very different way of thinking that
most are rather unaccustomed to. Procedural, imperative programming is
simply a paradigm that more closely matches the ordinary way of thinking
(ordinary = in non-programming, non-computing spheres of human endevor) than
functional programming. As such, lisp machines were an oddity and too
different for many to bother, and it was easy for them to come up with
excuses not to bother (so that the 'barrier of interest,' so to speak, was
higher.) Lisp, the language family (or whatever you want to call it), still
has this stigma: lambda calculus is not a natural way of thinking.

This isn't to make a value judgment, but I think it's an important thing
that the whole "functional/declarative v. procedural/OO" debate overlooks.
The same reason why programmers call lisp "mind-expanding" and "the latin of
programming languages" is the very same reason why they are reluctant to
learn it--its different, and for many also hard to get used to. Likewise,
Americans seem to have some repulsive hatred of learning latin--for people
who are used to english, it's just plain different and harder, even if it's
better. (Ok, that last bit was a value judgement. :)

Python doesn't try (too) hard to change the ordinary manner of thinking,
just to be as transparent as possible. I guess in that sense it encourages a
degree of mental sloth, but the objective is executable pseudocode. Lisp
counters that thinking the lisp way may be harder, but the power it grants
is out of all proportion to the relatively meager investment of mental
energy required--naturally, it's hard to convince someone of that if they
don't actually _use_ it first, and in the end some will probably still think
it isn't worth the trouble. It will take very significant and deep cultural
and intellectual changes before lisp is ever an overwhelmingly dominant
language paradigm. That is, when it becomes more natural to think of
cake-making as

UD: things
Gxyz: x is baked at y degrees for z minutes.
Hx: x is a cake.
Ix: x is batter.

For all x, ( (Ix & Gx(350)(45)) > Hx )

(i.e. "Everything that's a batter and put into a 350 degree oven for 45
minutes is a cake")

...instead of...

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place batter in oven.
3. Bake 45 minutes
4. Remove cake from oven.

(i.e. "To make a cake, bake batter in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes")

...then lisp will take over the universe. Never mind that the symbolic
logic version has more precision.

Jul 18 '05 #58
dan
Google ate my long post, so I'll make it simple.

Lisp failed (yes, it did) because of the parentheses. Normal people
can't parse 13 close-parens easily. Functional notation is
non-intuitive and hard to read.

The world is moving in the direction of languages like Python, that
fit naturally with how we speak and write.
"Francis Avila" <fr***********@ yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<vo******* *****@corp.supe rnews.com>...
"Christian Lynbech" <ch************ ***@ericsson.co m> wrote in message
news:of******** ****@situla.ted .dk.eu.ericsson .se...
>>>> "mike420" == mike420 <mi*****@ziplip .com> writes:


It is still a question of heated debate what actually killed the lisp
machine industry.

I have so far not seen anybody dipsuting that they were a marvel of
technical excellence, sporting stuff like colour displays, graphical
user interfaces and laser printers way ahead of anybody else.


I think what helped kill the lisp machine was probably lisp: many people
just don't like lisp, because it is a very different way of thinking that
most are rather unaccustomed to. Procedural, imperative programming is
simply a paradigm that more closely matches the ordinary way of thinking
(ordinary = in non-programming, non-computing spheres of human endevor) than
functional programming. As such, lisp machines were an oddity and too
different for many to bother, and it was easy for them to come up with
excuses not to bother (so that the 'barrier of interest,' so to speak, was
higher.) Lisp, the language family (or whatever you want to call it), still
has this stigma: lambda calculus is not a natural way of thinking.

This isn't to make a value judgment, but I think it's an important thing
that the whole "functional/declarative v. procedural/OO" debate overlooks.
The same reason why programmers call lisp "mind-expanding" and "the latin of
programming languages" is the very same reason why they are reluctant to
learn it--its different, and for many also hard to get used to. Likewise,
Americans seem to have some repulsive hatred of learning latin--for people
who are used to english, it's just plain different and harder, even if it's
better. (Ok, that last bit was a value judgement. :)

Python doesn't try (too) hard to change the ordinary manner of thinking,
just to be as transparent as possible. I guess in that sense it encourages a
degree of mental sloth, but the objective is executable pseudocode. Lisp
counters that thinking the lisp way may be harder, but the power it grants
is out of all proportion to the relatively meager investment of mental
energy required--naturally, it's hard to convince someone of that if they
don't actually _use_ it first, and in the end some will probably still think
it isn't worth the trouble. It will take very significant and deep cultural
and intellectual changes before lisp is ever an overwhelmingly dominant
language paradigm. That is, when it becomes more natural to think of
cake-making as

UD: things
Gxyz: x is baked at y degrees for z minutes.
Hx: x is a cake.
Ix: x is batter.

For all x, ( (Ix & Gx(350)(45)) > Hx )

(i.e. "Everything that's a batter and put into a 350 degree oven for 45
minutes is a cake")

...instead of...

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place batter in oven.
3. Bake 45 minutes
4. Remove cake from oven.

(i.e. "To make a cake, bake batter in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes")

...then lisp will take over the universe. Never mind that the symbolic
logic version has more precision.

Jul 18 '05 #59


dan wrote:
Google ate my long post, so I'll make it simple.

Lisp failed (yes, it did) because of the parentheses. Normal people
can't parse 13 close-parens easily.
Aaaaannnnnndddd they're off! (for another four hundred messages)

Nobody looks at or counts parentheses, except in languages other than
Lisp. We have editors that not only help keep them straight, but also
let us move chunks of code in the meaningful semantic chunks defined by
parentheses. So editing with parentheses is actually the best possible
way to edit code.
Functional notation
I do not think you know much about Lisp. Lisp does imperative as well as
functional. It is a multi-paradigm language. I prefer functional,
because it exposes the structure of my algorithm. YMMD.
is non-intuitive and hard to read.
All code is non-intuitive and hard to read.
The world is moving in the direction of languages like Python,
And Python is moving in the direction of Lisp, tho I do not know if
Python has abandoned its original modest intentions and now wants to go
all the way and be a full-blown HLL. Already seems perty close, just not
sure if the Mission Statement has been changed.
fit naturally with how we speak and write.


You only /think/ you speak and write that way because you have written
step-wise code for so long. If you are a real old fart this started with
Fortran and Basic, maybe Assembler.

From the above it is clear you know nothing about Lisp, so of course it
seems strange to you. But don't you think a language an order of
magnitude better than anything else will have to be different enough to
seem strange?

The good news is how fast you will adjust and your old language seems
strange.

kenny

--
http://tilton-technology.com
What?! You are a newbie and you haven't answered my:
http://alu.cliki.net/The%20Road%20to%20Lisp%20Survey

Jul 18 '05 #60

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