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Lisp in Small Pieces

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ISBN-13: 978-0521545662
ISBN-10: 0521545668
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Lisp in Small Pieces + The Art of the Metaobject Protocol + Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521545668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521545662
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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116 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Peter Norvig on December 22, 1999
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".
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ray Dillinger on November 28, 1999
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.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Schröder on December 17, 2005
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.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 2001
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lars Bergstrom VINE VOICE on February 13, 2010
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By W. Ghost on December 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent. It is clear but not superficial at all.

Queinnec explains from the basics of Lisp implementation (evaluation of S-expressions) to techniques for compiling into C. You will find very good advice on how to implement macros, continuations and higher-order functions. If you want to implement Lisp, Scheme or any other language actually, buy this book!

Besides being an excellent technical text, the book is also a great pleasure to read, because of Queinnec's writing style.

Also, there are exercises -- with answers! :-)
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