- Series: MIT Press
- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; fourth edition edition (December 21, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262560992
- ISBN-13: 978-0262560993
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Little Schemer - 4th Edition fourth edition Edition
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This delightful book leads you through the basic elements of programming in Scheme (a Lisp dialect) via a series of dialogues with well-chosen questions and exercises. Besides teaching Scheme, The Little Schemer teaches the reader how to think about computation. The authors focus on ten essential concepts of thinking about how to compute and demonstrate how to apply these concepts in inventive ways. The Little Schemer is an excellent book both for the beginner and for the seasoned programmer.
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)
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Top Customer Reviews
The format is a programmed text with questions on the left side and answers on the right. The way you use it is to read a question, think about the question, come up with an answer, and then compare your answer to Friedman's answer.
He used the names of foods as the symbols that are manipulated by your functions, and little jokes were scattered around to pull you back when things get so deep that your head is going to pop off. It even has a place reserved for JELLY STAINS!
The book has been through several revisions. The latest, The Little Schemer (Fourth Edition), updated by Matthias Felleisen, now conforms more closely to a real programming language, Scheme, and has new chapters which delve much deeper into recursive function theory and language processors.
Felleisen is not as comfortable with the programmed text format, so instead of questions and answers, he has a deranged dialog going on which reads a little like Sméagol and Gollum discussing fishes.
The Little Schemer is not a complete book on programming. It is weak in practical concerns like documentation, defensive programming, and computational efficiency. The development of a system of arithmetic from three primitives is delightful from a mathematical perspective and shockingly horrible from an engineering perspective.
It also will not teach you very much about Scheme. It touches on only a very small part of the language: a very good part.
Despite its flaws, the book has a very loyal following and that is because it works. It teaches one thing, a thing that is very difficult to teach, a thing that every profession programmer should know, and it does it really well. These are lessons that stick with you. You need to grab a sandwich and study this book.
I'm of the last generation of students who were able to switch on a computer and get a BASIC prompt. The huge heft of "introductory" programming books today leaves me cold and uninspired -- I would hate to have seen these when I was first exploring the excitement of programming.
The Little Schemer, by some of the old gurus of the (I believe) MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab (if not that particular lab, then at least those early, heady days in the '70s when AI wasn't a joke), reminded me of what it used to be like -- slowly building up a repertoire of commands and associated concepts that made programming seem a lot more like playing a Bach fugue and a lot less like debugging window objects. Things like recursion -- the essential part of this book -- are inherently wonderful.
Were I teaching an advanced class for high school students, this book would be at the top of my list. Were I wanting to introduce a liberal arts student into the joys of mathematics, this book would be at the top. Were I wanting to deprogram a bad-habited CS student, this book. Indeed, with so many Universities wanting to stuff some kind of logical, syntatical reasoning requirements into their required courses, this book should be a best seller.
It is a book that recaptures the joys and frustrations of programming and goes a long way to explaining why so many of the brightest people of the 20th century, at some point or another, sat down and cons'ed up a list.