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OFF-TOPIC:: Why Lisp is not my favorite programming language

 
 
nobody
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
this language.

The opinions expressed herein are my personal ones, coming
from several years of experience with Lisp. I did plenty of
AI programming back in the day, which is what would now be
called "search" instead.

Due to time constraints, I will refrain from posting any
follow-ups here. Participants of other newsgroups are well
aware of comp.lang.lispers' tendency to engage in personal
attacks, so a productive discussion with them is unlikely
anyway.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute this document
without restrictions.


================================================== =======
Why Lisp is not my favorite programming language.
================================================== =======
(In the following, "Lisp" refers to ANSI Common Lisp)

This article is a collection of facts anyone interested in
Lisp should know about.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 1: The fastest Lisp implementations are slow

(See any third-party benchmark: The Great Computer Language
Shootout comes to mind, but the Coyote Culch test is in my
optinion even better: it is a professional-quality
interlanguage benchmark)

As a rule of thumb, the most hand-optimized Lisp programs
will be longer than their C/C++ equivalents, and will run
2-20 times slower using the best compilers.

This alone is half the truth. To get such performance out
of Lisp, one has to add type declarations and shed all
safety checks, which is analogous to casting /everything/
to (void*) in C. This is needed to turn off type tag checks
at run time.

Sadly, Lisp code that was posted to USENET by Pascal
Bourguignon for the Coyote Gulch test did not measure up
even to these low expectations and was 31.6 times slower
than C++, using CMUCL 18d as a Lisp compiler and Intel C++
7.1 (with -O3 -xW optimization switches) as a C++ compiler
on Pentium IV.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 2: No one but a small clique of fanatics likes it

No matter how odd or perverted the cause, there will be
followers. In fact, the odder the cause, the fewer, but
more fervent its followers are. Look at any religious cult,
like Scientology, or take a peek in comp.lang.lisp and
listen to Lisp zealots talk about 'making sacrifices for
the cause' (in all seriousness!). Look up "a public
apology" thread started by Pascal Costanza as an excellent
example.

ZEALOTS STOP AT NOTHING TO ADVANCE THEIR CAUSE, AND
PERSONALLY ATTACKING ANYONE WITH A DISSENTING OPTINION IS
THE FIRST THING IN THEIR ARSENAL.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 3: The vast majority of people who study Lisp in
school, never want to use it again.

You should already know this if you studied or taught CS
where Lisp courses were offered. Even those students who
are fond of Scheme are usually disgusted by Lisp.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 4: Lisp is the most complicated language in the world

It has the biggest standard specification document, which
is also the most obfuscated one - something a lawyer
pretending to be a programmer could have written. C, C++
and Fortran 95 specs are much better written, by people who
can communicate directly and eloquently.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 5: Despite its size, Lisp does not define threads or
GUI.

Large libraries are very useful when programming, however
Lisp's many functions and macros hardly qualify.

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 6: There is no open-source cross-platform native-code
compiler

It was suggested that GCL (GNU Common Lisp) is the only
exception. However, it needs to be noted, that despite its
name, GCL is a dialect of its own, is quite slow even by
Lisp standards, and most alarmingly, unlike with other
compilers, its license requires your, programmer, code to
be GPL if you distribute it with GCL. (Because you will
need to use GCL both as a compiler and a run time library)

---------------------------------------------------------

FACT 7: There is no standard C interface.

C has become a lingua franca for interlanguage APIs. It may
be unfair, but not having a standard C interface is a
serious problem for any language.


EPILOGUE:

I do not hate Lisp, and I think it was a fine tool decades
ago, and I am not going to say "Lisp sucks". However, now
that we have superior languages for coding close to the
iron, high-performance computing, number crunching,
algorithms, scripting and gluing components together, Lisp
should be finally retired.
 
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Matthias Felleisen
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
nobody wrote:

> EPILOGUE:
>
> I do not hate Lisp, and I think it was a fine tool decades
> ago, and I am not going to say "Lisp sucks". However, now
> that we have superior languages for coding close to the
> iron, high-performance computing, number crunching,
> algorithms, scripting and gluing components together, Lisp
> should be finally retired.


somebody answers:

Lisp has been declared dead for the past N years. Unlike Algol, Simula 67, PL/I,
Pascal, ... and many more languages that came and went, it is still alife and
kicking. It will be alive and fun to program in for many years to come, because
it still has many advantages over C#, Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, and many other
languages that *will* come and go before Lisp is truly retired.

Long live Scheme

And now it's time to go back and strengthen Scheme even more.

-- Matthias Felleisen, PLT

 
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Christopher Benson-Manica
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
In comp.lang.c nobody <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
^^^^^^^^^^^

> This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
> asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
> of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
> this language.


Wow, isn't that nice of you to post for Mr. Yang. I'm sure I, like
everyone on comp.lang.c, is utterly fascinated by Lisp and Mr. Yang's
critique of it. Likewise, I'm sure, for the happy inhabitants of
comp.lang.c++, comp.lang.java.programmer, and comp.lang.python.

Followups set, anonymous crossposting troll.

> The opinions expressed herein are my personal ones, coming
> from several years of experience with Lisp. I did plenty of
> AI programming back in the day, which is what would now be
> called "search" instead.


> Due to time constraints, I will refrain from posting any
> follow-ups here. Participants of other newsgroups are well
> aware of comp.lang.lispers' tendency to engage in personal
> attacks, so a productive discussion with them is unlikely
> anyway.


> Permission is granted to copy and distribute this document
> without restrictions.



> ================================================== =======
> Why Lisp is not my favorite programming language.
> ================================================== =======
> (In the following, "Lisp" refers to ANSI Common Lisp)


> This article is a collection of facts anyone interested in
> Lisp should know about.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 1: The fastest Lisp implementations are slow


> (See any third-party benchmark: The Great Computer Language
> Shootout comes to mind, but the Coyote Culch test is in my
> optinion even better: it is a professional-quality
> interlanguage benchmark)


> As a rule of thumb, the most hand-optimized Lisp programs
> will be longer than their C/C++ equivalents, and will run
> 2-20 times slower using the best compilers.


> This alone is half the truth. To get such performance out
> of Lisp, one has to add type declarations and shed all
> safety checks, which is analogous to casting /everything/
> to (void*) in C. This is needed to turn off type tag checks
> at run time.


> Sadly, Lisp code that was posted to USENET by Pascal
> Bourguignon for the Coyote Gulch test did not measure up
> even to these low expectations and was 31.6 times slower
> than C++, using CMUCL 18d as a Lisp compiler and Intel C++
> 7.1 (with -O3 -xW optimization switches) as a C++ compiler
> on Pentium IV.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 2: No one but a small clique of fanatics likes it


> No matter how odd or perverted the cause, there will be
> followers. In fact, the odder the cause, the fewer, but
> more fervent its followers are. Look at any religious cult,
> like Scientology, or take a peek in comp.lang.lisp and
> listen to Lisp zealots talk about 'making sacrifices for
> the cause' (in all seriousness!). Look up "a public
> apology" thread started by Pascal Costanza as an excellent
> example.


> ZEALOTS STOP AT NOTHING TO ADVANCE THEIR CAUSE, AND
> PERSONALLY ATTACKING ANYONE WITH A DISSENTING OPTINION IS
> THE FIRST THING IN THEIR ARSENAL.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 3: The vast majority of people who study Lisp in
> school, never want to use it again.


> You should already know this if you studied or taught CS
> where Lisp courses were offered. Even those students who
> are fond of Scheme are usually disgusted by Lisp.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 4: Lisp is the most complicated language in the world


> It has the biggest standard specification document, which
> is also the most obfuscated one - something a lawyer
> pretending to be a programmer could have written. C, C++
> and Fortran 95 specs are much better written, by people who
> can communicate directly and eloquently.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 5: Despite its size, Lisp does not define threads or
> GUI.


> Large libraries are very useful when programming, however
> Lisp's many functions and macros hardly qualify.


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 6: There is no open-source cross-platform native-code
> compiler


> It was suggested that GCL (GNU Common Lisp) is the only
> exception. However, it needs to be noted, that despite its
> name, GCL is a dialect of its own, is quite slow even by
> Lisp standards, and most alarmingly, unlike with other
> compilers, its license requires your, programmer, code to
> be GPL if you distribute it with GCL. (Because you will
> need to use GCL both as a compiler and a run time library)


> ---------------------------------------------------------


> FACT 7: There is no standard C interface.


> C has become a lingua franca for interlanguage APIs. It may
> be unfair, but not having a standard C interface is a
> serious problem for any language.



> EPILOGUE:


> I do not hate Lisp, and I think it was a fine tool decades
> ago, and I am not going to say "Lisp sucks". However, now
> that we have superior languages for coding close to the
> iron, high-performance computing, number crunching,
> algorithms, scripting and gluing components together, Lisp
> should be finally retired.


--
Christopher Benson-Manica | I *should* know what I'm talking about - if I
ataru(at)cyberspace.org | don't, I need to know. Flames welcome.

(blank lines added below to keep my newsreader happy)






























































































 
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Thomas Weidenfeller
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
nobody wrote:
> This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
> asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
> of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
> this language.


You should be shot on sight for posting advocacy to a bunch of
non-advocacy groups. "Thanks" for polluting the groups with yet another
programming language war.

F'up set.

/Thomas

 
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Joe Marshall
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) (nobody) writes:

> This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
> asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
> of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
> this language.


Did he ask you to post this article in these newsgroups?

comp.lang.c++
comp.lang.java.programmer
comp.lang.scheme
comp.lang.c
comp.lang.python

Why did you not post it comp.lang.lisp where it would be at least
relevant?

> Due to time constraints, I will refrain from posting any
> follow-ups here.


If you do not intend to engage in convesation, why are you posting it?

> This article is a collection of facts anyone interested in
> Lisp should know about.


Is there some reason anyone should take `nobody' at yahoo seriously?

> Look up "a public apology" thread started by Pascal Costanza as an
> excellent example.


What does such a personal matter have to do with the language?

> I do not hate Lisp, and I think it was a fine tool decades
> ago, and I am not going to say "Lisp sucks". However, now
> that we have superior languages for coding close to the
> iron, high-performance computing, number crunching,
> algorithms, scripting and gluing components together, Lisp
> should be finally retired.


You clearly have some sort of axe to grind. If you don't like Lisp,
don't use it.

To others, if you are unfamiliar with Lisp you are welcome to read a
rebuttal in comp.lang.lisp

Please direct all followups to comp.lang.lisp
 
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Ray Dillinger
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
nobody wrote:
>
> This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
> asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
> of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
> this language.
>


The solution to your problem is obvious. Just treat Lisp like
Chocolate; if you don't like it, you can't have any.

Followups set.

Bear
 
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Guillaume
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
I don't know what this post has to do with comp.lang.c, but whatever.

This was pretty funny nonetheless.

As for me, I would say practically the same things about Java. :-p

 
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Phillip Lord
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
>>>>> "nobody" == nobody <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

nobody> FACT 2: No one but a small clique of fanatics likes it

nobody> No matter how odd or perverted the cause, there will be
nobody> followers. In fact, the odder the cause, the fewer, but more
nobody> fervent its followers are. Look at any religious cult, like
nobody> Scientology, or take a peek in comp.lang.lisp and listen to
nobody> Lisp zealots talk about 'making sacrifices for the cause'
nobody> (in all seriousness!). Look up "a public apology" thread
nobody> started by Pascal Costanza as an excellent example.

nobody> ZEALOTS STOP AT NOTHING TO ADVANCE THEIR CAUSE, AND
nobody> PERSONALLY ATTACKING ANYONE WITH A DISSENTING OPTINION IS
nobody> THE FIRST THING IN THEIR ARSENAL.

Where as you waiting till second thing which is I suppose impressive.

Phil
 
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Kaz Kylheku
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
(E-Mail Removed) (nobody) wrote in message news:<(E-Mail Removed). com>...
> FACT 2: No one but a small clique of fanatics likes it
>
> No matter how odd or perverted the cause, there will be
> followers. In fact, the odder the cause, the fewer, but
> more fervent its followers are.


But nobody is more fervent than lunatics whose membership applications
were *rejected* by imaginary little fanatic cliques. Their cause, in
fact, usually has just one follower.
 
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Martin Ambuhl
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-03-2004
nobody wrote:

> This article is posted at the request of C.W. Yang who
> asked me to detail my opinion of Lisp, and for the benefit
> of people like him, who may find themselves intrigued by
> this language.


I fail to see why anyone should give a rat's ass about what someone
hiding behind "(E-Mail Removed) (nobody)" has to say about
anything. "Nobody"'s opinions about LISP, C, or the color of bananas is
completely worthless. When you have the cajones to stand behind your
opinions, you might be paid attention to.

 
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