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Lisp in Small Pieces Paperback – 4 Dec 2003

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"This is a good, solid book. The writing is subtle, but clear. It is certainly worth reading for anyone..." C.M. Holt, Computing 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. 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).

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THIS chapter introduces a basic interpreter that will serve as the foundation for most of this book. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
The best book available on Lisp implementation 22 Dec. 1999
By Peter Norvig - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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".
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Good book on functional languages. 28 Nov. 1999
By Ray Dillinger - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
The future history of programming 18 Dec. 2005
By Ronald Schröder - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Very, very good. 15 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
An unexpectedly good book.
If you're interested in implementation choices for Scheme and the Lisp family of languages, this is an amazing book. Its worth reading even if you never plan to implement a Lisp interpreter and just want to learn a bit of theory and history behind these languages.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
How to implement LISP/Scheme language features and an intro to a compiler 14 Feb. 2010
By Lars Bergstrom - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is fantastic for filling the gap between a SICP-level understanding of how to write a Scheme (or LISP) compiler and actually getting the full language together. You know all of those "almost full R5RS" Scheme-to-{Java,.NET,JS} compilers? This book would help those authors fill in the last few pieces and actually implement the whole language.

Where this book falls short is as it approaches final code generation --- after you've generated the first working intermediate representation and want to start producing code you'd actually want to compiler. I recommend Appel's first book (Compiling with Continuations) for some tips on the basic optimization phases required in a functional compiler.
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