- Series: The 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: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 69 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,328 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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The key to enjoying this book is to not get hung up on the non-code questions. The book is written as a list of questions and answers, and it's frustrating to try to answer the non-code questions because they are often unguessable:
Q: Is that bad?
A: You must beware of shadows
Quickly read through the non-code questions and answers. But try to answer the code questions - that's the stuff that's fun and interesting.
Q: Write fun? with set? and firsts
A: (define fun? (lambda (rel) (set? (firsts rel))))
You'll find pencil and paper to be too slow for this stuff; a text editor is more convenient. But you need not bother running the code through a compiler - the answers are given on the same page.
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.