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Let Over Lambda Paperback – April 2, 2008


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Let Over Lambda + An Introduction to Functional Programming Through Lambda Calculus (Dover Books on Mathematics) + Purely Functional Data Structures
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu.com (April 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435712757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435712751
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
It's great writing, with excellent style and very fun to read.
Slobodan Blazeski
Regarding closures, I agree with the author that most of us have been left "with the inaccurate impression that closures are only good for toy examples like counter."
Amazon Customer
If you know your way through the multiple flavours of Lisp this book becomes really interesting.
Phillip Calcado Vilar Souza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Matthew C. Lamari on October 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
Let over Lambda is an exploratory journey into advanced techniques involving Common Lisp features and language properties, that can be combined in ways that result in more than the sum of their parts.

There are plenty of "wow, that is cool" moments and useful constructs demonstrated, that will probably make it into the reader's toolkit. But of greater importance is the progression in how these are delivered. While not a broad tutorial in Common Lisp (although the reader-macro chapter could serve fairly well in that capacity), Let over Lambda contains an underlying tutorial on the incremental/iterative development of such macros/tools against desired requirements - building up to constructs via interim revisions and explanations.

A book involving Lisp has little choice but to stand on the shoulders of giants, and by necessity these are frequently referenced and cited. The most important of these is Graham's "On Lisp" (currently available for free download) - which, while attempting to cover the breadth of the language, is regarded as one of the more advanced texts on macros. Some topics introduced in On Lisp (such as the leveraging of unhygienic macros) are taken much further in Let over Lambda, and combined with other constructs (such as capture/closures) that would have to be described separately in more general purpose tutorial or language overview.

The writing style definitely includes an "attitude" that is partially inherent to the material being discussed and partially from the author's obvious passion (a passion that becomes REALLY obvious in the Forth chapter).
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Slobodan Blazeski on March 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is for intermediate or advanced lisper. It's great writing, with excellent style and very fun to read. Doug Hoyte is extremely intelligent person who shared his specific techniques of metaprogramming and macro writing. Reading this book will introduce you to many cool utilities and knowledge that will advance your lisp macro skills. Paraphrasing Alan Perlis : a book that doesn't affect the way you think about programming, is not worth reading. And let over lambda certainly will influence the way you think. You might disagree with Hoyte, or ignore his advice but you will certainly learn there is another way of lisping.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Brent M. Millare on September 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've recently moved up from being a lisp beginner to an intermediate lisp user. Part of doing that is reaching a better understanding of closures and writing macros. LoL does a good job of helping you get to that next stage in the first set of chapters (my favorite part of the book). I find Doug's writing style to be easy to follow and somewhat more enjoyable than Paul Graham's OnLisp. LoL uses macros in ways not covered in other lisp texts including OnLisp. For that reason alone is it worth getting. I'm still growing as a lisp programmer and the other chapters are still beyond my understanding but I can easily see myself coming back to it when I'm ready.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Clayton T. Stanley on July 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
It took me over 3 months to read this book cover to cover. Although I haven't read Graham's 'On Lisp', which is why it may have taken so long for me to read this book. That said, I learned more about programming in lisp (and programming in general) during the last three months than I have over the past two years that I've been exposed to the language.

By far, my favorite section of the book is in Chapter 6, on pandoric macros. I was immediately able to apply 'plambda' and 'with-pandoric' to my own code as soon as I saw them. Such a wonderful abstraction.

Doug Hoyte, you've turned me into a lisp lifer. Thanks!

-Clayton
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I haven't finished it, but like another reviewer I am being inspired by this book.

In the first couple of chapters, the author shows examples of assembler, C and Lisp, mostly in preparation for introducing lexical closures.

Closures, it turns out, are generated easily in Lisp by using the construction "let over lambda".

Regarding closures, I agree with the author that most of us have been left "with the inaccurate impression that closures are only good for toy examples like counter." But in fact, "closures are the building blocks of Lisp. Environments, the functions defined inside those environments, and macros like defun that make using them convenient, are all that are needed for modelling any problem." And in fact, the author's aim is "to stop beginning Lisp programmers . . . from . . . reaching for systems like CLOS." Yes, CLOS offers certain things, but ". . . do not use [CLOS] when a lambda will suffice."

If you're like me, you find all this very refreshing and stimulating.

From pages 31-37, the author deftly shows how objects are collections of procedures and associated state, and how the entire object infrastructure is easily derived from the lexical closure, otherwise known as "let over lambda," and combinations of "let over lambda over let over lambda." The ease and power with which this is demonstrated is breath-taking.

A couple of more quotes: "Object systems are a formalisation of a subset of let and lambda combinations, sometimes with gimmicks like inheritance bolted on (footnote 10: Having macros is immeasurably more important than having inheritance.
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