- Paperback: 504 pages
- Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593272812
- ISBN-13: 978-1593272814
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Land of Lisp: Learn to Program in Lisp, One Game at a Time! 1st Edition
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About the Author
Conrad Barski has an M.D. from the University of Miami, and nearly 20 years of programming experience. This includes a stint developing an obscure Atari Jaguar game, and working on many medical software projects. Barski is also an avid cartoonist, having created the popular alien Lisp mascot and many graphical tutorials. He currently develops cardiology software and lives in Washington, D.C.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author, Conrad Barski M.D., takes the reader through a whirlwind tour of Common Lisp and some of the fundamental principles of game development, but interestingly enough it never feels rushed. He accomplishes this feat by sticking to a very important strategy summarized as, "providing something useful at every stage". That is, every example in the book is meant to fit into the context of the larger game examples (e.g. a text adventure, Dice of Doom, etc.) while simultaneously teaching a lesson about Common Lisp *and* provide utility in isolation. It's really a thing of beauty the way that Mr. Barski manages to build useable games piecemeal while teaching important concepts along the way. To illustrate what I mean, let me give an example. The Dice of Doom game example starts with a very small 2x2 board and the program parts needed to represent it. Mr. Barski then builds pieces on top of this substrate to generate positions, while extolling the virtues of decoupling the logic of the game from its representation. It's at this point that the game is playable against a human opponent, but at no previous stage was the code left in a state of flux -- each one was fully amenable to tinkering, tweaking, and experimentation. As an added bonus, the whole implementation by this stage was an incredible 13 lines! (that is actually not true, it's more than that, but by using Common Lisp the implementation was incredibly concise) As if this feat was not impressive enough, Mr. Barski then adds game AI into the mix while explaining the famous minimax search algorithm. He then makes the game more efficient using some techniques common in functional programming, including: closures, memoization, tail-calls (with caveats), and lazy programming. As expected the game itself becomes more feature rich as these lessons progress as stronger AI (i.e. better evaluation) is added, more efficient search techniques are introduced (i.e. alpha-beta pruning), and heuristics are used.
All in all, I am very impressed with the quality of Land of Lisp. As a co-author of a Lisp programming book I appreciate the amount of effort required to pull off a genuinely unique book -- I would be happy to achieve a fraction of the quality of Land of Lisp. This book will appeal to the long-time Lisper and the neophyte and I highly recommend buying it today.
While this book would be worth purchasing for the Nerdly Jokes and Comics by themselves, it is a full but easily paced treatment of a language that allowed the implementation of most Artificial Intelligence research. The easy, carefully designed pedagogy (teaching) follows the development of several entertaining and challenging games including 1980's style text adventures (like Zork and Adventure). But advanced topics are covered in some level of depth with examples including development of a HTTP server, a full chapter on Functional Programming, and another on LISP Macro's and the development of Domain-Specific Languages (DSL's). Some Artificial Intelligence methods such as MINIMAX are briefly covered in the game examples developed in this book. Reader's seeking some understanding of Functional Programing will achieve this understanding in a widely used and classic programming language rather than the more recent and arcane Haskell.
This is a fun and relatively easy ride through one of the oldest higher-level programming languages and one with considerable life still in it. It could form the basis of a child's early programming background or a comprehensive adult's introduction to a powerful Computer Science tool. It is the interesting project of an MD's interestingly twisted obsession and valuable to anyone interested in techniques of programming. A great read...
--Ira Laefsky, MSE/MBA
IT & HCI Researcher and Consultant formerly on the Senior Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bougth the paperback edtition.Read more
Macros are introduced much later in the book.Read more