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The Little Schemer (The MIT Press) Paperback – 1 Feb 1996
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I learned more about LISP from this book than I have from any of the other LISP books I've read over the years...While other books will tell you the mechanics of LISP, they can leave you largely uninformed on the style of problem-solving for which LISP is optimized. The Little LISPer teaches you how to think in the LISP language...an inexpensive, enjoyable introduction.--Gregg Williams, Byte
This text is a companion volume to "The Seasoned Schemer" and includes thoughts for anyone who wants to know what computing is about and to learn the physics of cyberspace. The information is presented in a humorous and easy-to-grasp fashion.See all Product description
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Short questions followed by answers.
Do you have to try to answer the questions before you read the answers?
Not necessarily all the time, but it is important you understand each question and answer before proceeding, Some of the time I used a piece of paper to hide the answers. The book starts off slow, but gets very hard towards the end. If you lose the thread of the argument, you must backtrack and pick it up again.
Is the book patronising?
I can see that some people might find the question-answer style and the drawings of elephants irritating, but I find them charming.
I want a manual on scheme. Is this the book for me?
This is the right book for you to read, but it is not a manual on scheme.
Who else ought to read the book?
Anyone interested in programming, in any language. Anyone who likes to think hard.
Who ought not to read the book?
Anyone on a diet. (The authors are obsessed with food.) Anyone who does not relish a challenge.
Is it the best book available on functional programming?
I have not read all of them, so cannot say, but it is the best textbook I have read on any subject.
As for complaints that it is highly cryptic text: Well, I disagree - everything is clearly and logically presented and terms are introduced (yes - car, cdr, cons and lambda are all defined in the opening chapters). To say they are not seems to be evidence of at least one reviewer not paying attention!
Perhaps the best aspect of this book is the way it trains your movement of thought through code in the recursive way needed to fully grok Scheme and other LISP like languages.
Unfortunately you have to read through a silly childish conversational style between the master and the student. The points are well illustrated but it must be aimed at school children. I'm sure the three volumes 'The Little Schemer', 'The Seasoned Schemer' and 'The Reasoned Schemer' could have been rolled into one useful book, had the authors adopted a more traditional style.
The Little Schemer teaches you a little bit of LISP in the most fun style ever. The book is a dialogue between you and the authors about hundreds of tiny Scheme programs and it teaches you to think recursively. This book will make you think and will stretch your mind a little. It's one of the most fun programming books ever written. Whenever I'm bored, I pick it up and do a few problems.
I've gone through this book at least 5 times. Check out this photo that I just took of all the notes that I've made while reading it and the Seasoned/Reasoned Schemers [...]. That is a lot of hours spent with these books. I enjoyed this book a lot and I copied out all the fun code examples and put them on GitHub [...], and I also wrote a blog post about deriving y-combinator based on one of the chapters in this book [...].