November 29, 2005
Learning Lisp for Free with MIT

Christopher Roach's widely linked article, “Learn Lisp From MIT—for Free!!!” pointed readers to the resources for a self-directed SICP-based Lisp (or Scheme) education: MIT's OpenCourseWare version of 6.001, DrScheme and the SICP lecture videos (and the RSS feed of the series optimized for iPods).

In “More Lisp—For Free”, Christopher, a newcomer to Lisp himself, spends a little more time on why it might be worth learning Lisp; including the beneficial effect it can have on your coding in other languages.

So, after a couple of failed attempts before this summer, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally found myself starting to grasp the concepts and I was actually able to start writing programs in Lisp. And, to my surprise, in a very short period of time, I was able to write programs faster and more bug-free than in other languages with which I was much more acquainted (e.g., C/C++, C#, and Java).

Now, I've never used Lisp in my professional life, however, I began to notice that some of the habits I picked up while programming in Lisp were creeping into my daily programming and were actually helping me out quite bit.

He wants to hear from people using Lisp, too.

Oh, and by the way, if any of you out there are using Lisp in your daily life, personal projects, professional projects, whatever, please, post a comment below giving us some of the juicy details. Feel free to talk about how hard it was, what advantages/disadvantages it provided, and/or provide links to websites about your project (especially those containing interesting source code).

Posted by jjwiseman at November 29, 2005 01:30 PM

Long time reader, first time commentor.

I work for a defence lab in india, and mostly a lisp user on personal projects including some web apps. However in my professional life I am using Java and mostly python and wanting to use Lisp.

However I use "Why the Lucky stiffs" way of wearing Lisp Slippers to work and sneaking it in. (most of my quick data transformations is written in lisp, etc.. once my utility package grows considerably, I guess I can bring it in the front door :).

Vishnu Vyas.

Posted by: Vishnu Vyas on November 30, 2005 04:43 AM

I've used Common Lisp as one of my main project languages for years, developing genetic algorithm/neural network code. I originally used lisp becuase it was the first language I taught myself, long before C/C++/Java, so I defaulted to lispy ways of doing things, like lots and lots of recursion and such, i NEVER used any setf's or loops, after paul graham scared me away from side effects. but after a while i learned to program imperatively, and now i'm going back to lisp, using a combination of the two styles. common lisp is great becuase it lets you combine iterations and recursions side by side without effort. the only problem i have with it is it doesn't adequitely allow you to do lots of iterative code as easily as other languages, and also that it's too easy to write an algorithm that quick and elegant in design but is in fact incredibly inefficient to execute, and it's hard to find an algorithm that's most efficient but isn't horrible to code. but overall i prefer lisp for it's rapid prototyping capabilities, but i do miss certain features from python like a full code trace in the debugger, but anyways, yay lisp ;D

Posted by: pwbdecker on December 9, 2005 12:10 AM

please please help i wanna learn to program for numerouse reasons please please help i need some good reading i am a begginer but i am capable ov learning please help freind in need :)

Posted by: ste on January 9, 2006 06:07 AM

I've used Lisp a bit in the past, but recently "stumbled" across it again, after trying to decide what language to use for my game. I wanted a language with a really good C++ FFI, and Lua and Python both seemed to fit the bill, but had issues. Then I came across Corman Lisp

Corman Lisp has a really good C++ FFI, and it compiles to native x86 code and is reasonably fast. I've bridged it to my 3d engine for the most part, and it works pretty good.

That much said, its REPL lets me start a game session, play for a bit, tweak some parameters, and continue playing without restarting! That's something no other language has been able to do. It's amazing.

The other thing is that I'm loving macros! I think of it as C++ template metaprogramming done right! :)

Posted by: Bilbo on March 20, 2006 02:15 PM
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