- 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 (67 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,733 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
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.
It's also a little expensive for what's essentially a glorified worksheet made from what the authors admit were teaching notes for a class you're not taking. Since only about 2/3 of the book is useful, I probably wouldn't buy the book again.
The book is structured as a series of questions and answers. Each page has several questions on the left hand side, with answers on the right hand side. The overall interpretation of the book is that you can read this without a computer, using pencil and paper to work through the many questions in the book.
As the reader progresses they will continue to develop and reimplement many useful tools in Scheme that become more and more practical as the text goes on. What is great about this method is the pacing and the steady revealing of topics and good practices presented by the author. Because they gradually accustom the reader to topics like recursion, list operations, and lambda, by the time they show how define is unneccessary in Scheme due to the Y Combinator this rather challenging concept seems somewhat intuitive.
Overall I think this is one of the greatest computer science books I have ever read. Sure it may not formally define things or be the absolute easiest text to read on the Scheme language itself, but this book should not be used as a reference product - it should be used as a tool bye which the reader strengthens their fundamentals in computer science and programmer, whether or not they ever touch Scheme again.