The Seasoned Schemer, second edition (The MIT Press) second edition
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& quot; 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.& quot; -- Gregg Williams, Byte
" 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
- Publisher : The MIT Press; second edition (December 21, 1995)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 026256100X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0262561006
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Grade level : 12 and up
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 9.01 x 6.94 x 0.41 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #501,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I don't mean to be so harsh. I enjoyed reading The Little Lisper, and I intend to read the other "Little" books for their content (which is worthwhile) even if I don't appreciate their style.
Unfortunately The Seasoned Schemer has a strong inclination towards inside jokes for people who already know the material. In the process of charming the experienced reader it risks losing novices. How does a reference to Alonzo Church using call-with-current-continuation tell the novice that letcc is not available in many Scheme implementations? Why is there no real explanation of when and where to apply the "12th commandment" (use letrec to remove arguments that do not change for recursive application)? Why does a discussion about using closures and functions to model data structures devolve into trivia about circular lists? The text often seems like a sequence of such programming gems littered in a book with few clues for eyes unaccustomed to recognizing gems.
People familiar with the subject matter will enjoy the charming and concise discussion of fundamental (and often difficult) ideas. Other readers are probably better served by reading a proper text book on programming in Scheme. It's a real pity though, because once you get the inside jokes this really is a fine book! Just don't use it as your first book on programming in LISP like languages.
It covers a lot of ground in a slim volume (just as in "The Little Schemer"). This book introduces the concepts of closures and call-with-current-continuation (among other things).
As with "The Little Schemer", this book's strength is in its socratic instruction method. Lessons are written and illustrated as conversations between the reader and the instructor (in question/answer format). While this sounds strange, it is actually surprisingly effective as a means of learning the material. It might seem somewhat like rote instruction, but it can often frame foreign concepts in a rememberable fashion.
Neither of these books require much in the way of background or familiarity with the material. They were created as a means of teaching non-programmers to program in Scheme. However, I think they hold value for trained programmers as well.
The Seasoned Schemer is continuation of The Little Schemer that I listed as my #4 favorite book in the first part of this series. This book is written in the same style as The Little Schemer and it's extremely fun to read. It's a dialogue between you and the authors but unlike The Little Schemer that teaches you to think recursively this book teaches you to think about the nature of computation. You'll learn about closures, continuations and continuation passing style (cps), y-combinator and implement your own Lisp in Lisp at the end.
Top reviews from other countries
Very first thing to mention is probably: Do not read before reading "The little Schemer".
The reasons are, that the book has some conventions, which are not explained. For example in the first part (chapter 11) defines some function "scramble" which makes absolutely no sense, even with the included description, unless ... you know that in this book indices start with zero -.- I have no clue why one would do that, but it completely tripped me up. Even with that information, the description of the function scramble did still not make sense, because it uses words, which are not defined in this book, but maybe in The little Schemer book (idk, I did not read it).
The second chapter in the book (chapter 12) immediately starts out with some deeply nested lambdas inside a Y combinator, which I don't understand yet. It is not defined in this book either, but according to others is defined in The little Schemer.
So do yourself a favor and either learn about those topics first, or do The little Schemer first.
I've been told that this book would be understandable for people, who did not read The little Schemer, but this apparently depends on what other stuff you already read. It is not a book that is self-sufficient, self-contained.
I've read the first 2 chapters of SICP and went through a few functional programming languages tutorials and read part of Realm of Racket, but nowhere on that lecture the Y combinator has been introduced, so I guess it is not a beginner's topic. Somewhere I read, that the Y combinator is a way to get recursion in languages, which offer no recursion natively, but why would that ever be needed in a language like Scheme? So the example makes no sense to me.
Some of the questions on the left sides of pages are easy to understand / interpret in another way, so that I actually would have given a completely different answer than the one written on the right side of the pages, but it's not been a big issue so far. Maybe it only takes some time to understand what the authors refer to sometimes. Maybe, if I had read The little Schemer first, ...
The approach to teaching is interesting, I always liked the Socratic question method in philosophy class and I think it's quite difficult to come up with the right question all the time. I am curious how well the authors will handle this in later chapters.
I noticed, that the graphics in the book have not all been updated to read "Scheme" instead of "LISP". The elephant in the image on the cover page for chapter 12 still holds a book with the title "The little LISPer". This might be intentional though.
I might update my rating for the book, once I understand it better. However, the fact that it is not so self-contained and the partially confusing questions and wording make it seem like not a 5 star book to me at the moment, which is why I give it 4 stars for now.