# Who were the opponents of Lisp?

211 views

### Kazimir Majorinc

Mar 25, 2010, 3:15:42 AM3/25/10
to
Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
programmers I know easily dismissed it because
"they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?
Are there any influential anti-Lisp book or article,
scientific or not?

I know for Dijkstra - he harshly criticized Lisp in
few manuscripts he distributed, and partly - but
only partly - rehabilitated in one article someone
recently posted somewhere (on Reditt?) Did he
wrote any formal or more detailed text about that?
Anyone else?

--
Kazimir Majorinc
http://kazimirmajorinc.blogspot.com

### Tamas K Papp

Mar 25, 2010, 4:28:32 AM3/25/10
to

It is well known that speech therapists are the greatest enemies of lisp.

Cheers,

Tamas

### Waldek Hebisch

Mar 25, 2010, 6:24:30 AM3/25/10
to
Kazimir Majorinc <em...@false.false> wrote:
> Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
> programmers I know easily dismissed it because
> "they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
> celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?
> Are there any influential anti-Lisp book or article,
> scientific or not?
>

Look up "Typeful programming" by Luca Cardelli. At the
beginning (in few sentences) he criticizes dynamically
typed languages with Lisp beeing prominent example.
However note that critique is not the goal of Cardelli
and is only tiny part of the article. His main goal
is to promote advanced types systems.

--
Waldek Hebisch
heb...@math.uni.wroc.pl

### Mark Tarver

Mar 25, 2010, 5:39:02 PM3/25/10
to

David Turner for one. There is a famous quote from him.

'It needs to be said very firmly that LISP, at least as represented by
the dialects in common use, is not a functional language at
all. ....... My suspicion is that the success of Lisp set back the
development of a properly functional style of programming by at least
ten years.'

This was from 1984, but the general feeling amongst the British
functional community was strongly anti-Lisp at that time. During my
spell at the LFCS from 1988-1990, Lisp was barely regarded. It
certainly influenced the teaching of FP at university which emphasised
ML (now more Haskell) with inevitable effects on the Lisp job
market. Some of the consequences of that educational judgement and
why it was made are laid out in http://www.lambdassociates.org/blog/l21.htm
(Windows only). Qi was a way of bridging the gulf.

Mark

### Mark Tarver

Mar 26, 2010, 7:51:45 AM3/26/10
to

1. A lot of the assertions made for and against Lisp masqueraded, and
still masquerade, as purely scientific assertions, delivered from the
top of the mountain. However if you examine these assertions they
actually contain strong value judgements. It's generally important to
see them for what they are and isolate them.

2. One of these was the attack on the procedural elements of Lisp-
this was Turner's complaint. From an educational point of view -
teaching functional programming - having a language that allows escape
into C-like idioms is not a help. The other weakness is that formal
verification of programs becomes more difficult.

The British theoreticians were much influenced by maths and logic and
felt these aspects were very important. It is also true that these
procedural elements are very useful on occasion to *mature
programmers*. Hence there was a value gap between the experienced
Lispers and the theoreticians about what was important and why.

3. Generally the Lisp community did not answer these challenges at
the time they were aired. I think partly because people like Milner/
Turner etc. are very clever and therefore intimidating. Also because
the best Lisp people were focussed elsewhere (Symbolics). This meant
that they ceded intellectual territory at university level, and the
effects took over a decade to come through.

4. Part of the reason for Turner's attack was that Lisp style prior
to SICP could be pretty awful. Few people knew how to write decent
abstract code and that, and the poor performance of machines, meant
that destructive operations abounded in Lisp code. A sample from
Chang & Lee (early 70s) of a resolution ATP is quite horrendous code.
Turner's Miranda was beautiful, but impractically slow.

Mark

### Alex Mizrahi

Mar 26, 2010, 8:07:45 AM3/26/10
to
KM> Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
KM> programmers I know easily dismissed it because
KM> "they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
KM> celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?

Stephen Wolfram counts?

From: Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com>

----
I'm not sure this is precisely the forum in which to log this fact,
but since Fateman is telling historical stories I wanted to add one.
I was in Pasadena at one point, visiting a friend at Caltech, and
popped in to see Wolfram around the time he was gearing up to write
SMP, I think. If I recall, he was 19 at the time. People around me
informed me that though he was very young, or maybe because of it, he
was on track to win a nobel prize of some sort. I myself worked for
the MIT Macsyma group at the time as an undergrad, perhaps my first
senior year, so I think I must have been a year or two older than him.

He told me that Lisp was "inherently" (I'm pretty sure even after all
this time that this was his exact word) 100 times slower than C and
therefore an unsuitable vehicle. I tried to explain to him that this
was implausible. That he could probably construct an argument for 2-5
that he could at least defend in some prima facie way, but that 100
was ridiculous. (This was in the heyday of Maclisp when it had been shown
to trump Fortran's speed, so probably even 2-5 could be refuted, but at
least
taking a position in that range would have left him with some defenses in
a debate. He didn't cite anything credible that I recall to back up this
factor of 100 problem.

I tried to explain why and was not clear why a person smart enough to
"maybe win a nobel prize" couldn't entertain a discussion on the
simple set of concepts involved, whether or not schooled in
computation. It was quite frustrating and he seemed impatient.
----

Mar 26, 2010, 12:32:49 PM3/26/10
to
On 2010-03-26 12:07:45 +0000, Alex Mizrahi said:

> Stephen Wolfram counts?

He may have had some mileage a long time ago, but I can't imagine
anyone who'se used Mathematica would pay much attention now: it's not
really an example of good language design.

(In fact, based on the documentation, and although I find it a fine
system for my current domestic use, I probably would not consider it
for serious use as the possibility that I might have to deal with
someone whose head is that big would put me off.)

### His kennyness

Mar 26, 2010, 3:44:37 PM3/26/10
to
Kazimir Majorinc wrote:
> Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
> programmers I know easily dismissed it because
> "they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
> celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?
> Are there any influential anti-Lisp book or article,
> scientific or not?
>
> I know for Dijkstra - he harshly criticized Lisp in
> few manuscripts he distributed, and partly - but
> only partly - rehabilitated in one article someone
> recently posted somewhere (on Reditt?) Did he
> wrote any formal or more detailed text about that?
> Anyone else?

Knuth.

kt

### His kennyness

Mar 26, 2010, 4:20:02 PM3/26/10
to
His kennyness wrote:
> Kazimir Majorinc wrote:
>> Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
>> programmers I know easily dismissed it because
>> "they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
>> celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?
>> Are there any influential anti-Lisp book or article,
>> scientific or not?
>>
>> I know for Dijkstra - he harshly criticized Lisp in
>> few manuscripts he distributed, and partly - but
>> only partly - rehabilitated in one article someone
>> recently posted somewhere (on Reditt?) Did he
>> wrote any formal or more detailed text about that?
>> Anyone else?
>
> Knuth.

More recently, Steele and Norvig.

kt

### Francogrex

Mar 26, 2010, 4:30:28 PM3/26/10
to
On Mar 26, 9:20 pm, His kennyness <kentil...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> More recently, Steele and Norvig.

Show good evidence to back up your claim.

### David Formosa (aka ? the Platypus)

Mar 26, 2010, 9:50:02 PM3/26/10
to
On Thu, 25 Mar 2010 08:15:42 +0100, Kazimir Majorinc
<em...@false.false> wrote:
> Informally, many people criticize Lisp. Some best
> programmers I know easily dismissed it because
> "they do not like parentheses." But who of programming
> celebrities or theoreticians were enemies of Lisp?
> Are there any influential anti-Lisp book or article,
> scientific or not?

The most prominent anti-Lisp artical would be "Worse is better" but
that is not so much an anti-lisp artical as a explonation of why Unix
and C became dominate in the marketplace over Lisp running on lisp
mechines.

### His kennyness

Mar 27, 2010, 7:22:02 AM3/27/10
to

How about wild and crazy evidence I don't give a rat's ass what you

Steele contributed hugely to an anti-Lisp called Java, and contributed
mostly the anti-Lispiness. He should have contributed groovy/scala.

Norvig rather famously pronounced Python to be as good as Lisp.

Two men who should be advocates for lisp but are not because their
masters use something else.

Knuth said any idiot can implement a linked list so there is no need for
Lisp. Look it up.

### D Herring

Mar 27, 2010, 12:16:27 PM3/27/10
to
On 03/27/2010 07:22 AM, His kennyness wrote:

> Knuth said any idiot can implement a linked list so there is no need for
> Lisp. Look it up.

When it comes to algorithms and other low-level details, Knuth knows
where its at. After looking at TeX and other programs he wrote, does
anyone care what he says about style or other large-scale issues?

- Daniel

### His kennyness

Mar 27, 2010, 1:06:13 PM3/27/10
to
D Herring wrote:
> On 03/27/2010 07:22 AM, His kennyness wrote:
>
>> Knuth said any idiot can implement a linked list so there is no need for
>> Lisp. Look it up.
>
> When it comes to algorithms and other low-level details, Knuth knows
> where its at.

Which suggesrs those skills have nothing to do with understanding what
makes languages more or less powerful.

> After looking at TeX and other programs he wrote, does
> anyone care what he says about style or other large-scale issues?

It took him ten years just to lay out type, TeX is notoriously hard to
mark up, and there is no wysiwyg GUI. Hard to be impressed.

His other contribution was literate programming, one of the worst and
least successful programming ideas ever but a natural result of his
rejection of powerful languages. They guy writes in assembler, no wonder
he needs something he can read.

kt

Mar 27, 2010, 1:41:46 PM3/27/10
to
On 2010-03-27 17:06:13 +0000, His kennyness said:

> It took him ten years just to lay out type

To be fair, I think he basically had to discover how typography works,
including mathematical typography, invent algorithms that could do a
decent job of it, implement them and (not least) design a typeface (OK,
a horrible typeface, but I think he was constrained by the typeface his
publisher had already used) and write a program in which to implement
that design.

That's actually pretty good going for ten years.

> TeX is notoriously hard to mark up,

TeX is indeed a horrible language

> and there is no wysiwyg GUI.

People who can type generally don't want such. Though TeX is horrible,
it is still a pretty good way of creating printed maths - certainly far
better than anything else I've seen.

(None of this should be taken as implying I think Knuth has anything
interesting to say about programming languages: I don't.)

### His kennyness

Mar 27, 2010, 11:04:40 PM3/27/10
to
> On 2010-03-27 17:06:13 +0000, His kennyness said:
>
>> It took him ten years just to lay out type
>
> To be fair, I think he basically had to discover how typography works,

Right, and I am supposed to pay for his self-education? He set out on a
of a weak mind. He is a computer science professor and his contribution
to computer science was to explain that Lisp was a mistake. QED/RIP.

> including mathematical typography, invent algorithms that could do a
> decent job of it, implement them and (not least) design a typeface (OK,

> a horrible typeface,..

He giveth with one hand and taketh with the other.

> but I think he was constrained by the typeface his
> publisher had already used) and write a program in which to implement
> that design.
>
> That's actually pretty good going for ten years.

Sure, if one is fundamentally a useless academic.

>
>> TeX is notoriously hard to mark up,
>
> TeX is indeed a horrible language
>
>> and there is no wysiwyg GUI.
>
> People who can type generally don't want such.

Never ever having had one, they are not in a position not to want one.
Given a horrible language, wysiwyg is a necessary language tutor. I am
sorry I had to explain that. But wysiwyg was beyond knuth, he's...an

> Though TeX is horrible,

You could not stop there?

> ..it is still a pretty good way of creating printed maths - certainly far

> better than anything else I've seen.

And in ten years I could implement cold fusion. Not seeing the win here.

kt

Mar 28, 2010, 6:06:54 PM3/28/10
to
On 2010-03-28 04:04:40 +0100, His kennyness said:
>
> Right, and I am supposed to pay for his self-education? He set out on a

And in the process invented what a tool which has enormously improved
the ability of people who use maths in their work to communicate. Yes,
you are meant to pay for that.

> Clear sign of a weak mind. He is a computer science professor and his
> contribution to computer science was to explain that Lisp was a mistake.

No.

>>
>> People who can type generally don't want such. [GUIs]

>
> Never ever having had one, they are not in a position not to want one.

They have many, of course, and yet somehow they still persist in
typing. I have at least two good ones to hand, and I still type stuff
in TeX when I need to type maths.

>
> And in ten years I could implement cold fusion. Not seeing the win here.

Good, go and do so! You will both make yourself extremely rich, and
solve the world's energy problems at a stroke. Hot fusion would do, in
fact.

### His kennyness

Mar 28, 2010, 9:14:15 PM3/28/10
to
> On 2010-03-28 04:04:40 +0100, His kennyness said:
>>
>> Right, and I am supposed to pay for his self-education? He set out on
>
> And in the process invented what a tool which has enormously improved
> the ability of people who use maths in their work to communicate. Yes,
> you are meant to pay for that.

hey, at least it is an honest application, something I always whine

>
>> Clear sign of a weak mind. He is a computer science professor and his
>> contribution to computer science was to explain that Lisp was a mistake.
>
> No.
>
>>>
>>> People who can type generally don't want such. [GUIs]
>>
>> Never ever having had one, they are not in a position not to want one.
>
> They have many, of course, and yet somehow they still persist in
> typing. I have at least two good ones to hand, and I still type stuff
> in TeX when I need to type maths.

Actually, text is good. I certainly would not want a visual programming
language. But I doubt you have experienced a serious math editor unless
you have played with this:

>
>>
>> And in ten years I could implement cold fusion. Not seeing the win here.
>
> Good, go and do so! You will both make yourself extremely rich, and
> solve the world's energy problems at a stroke. Hot fusion would do, in
> fact.
>

Funny you should mention that. I googled the princton reactor recently
to see what they were up to. Plug pulled, 1997. I wonder how warm
superconductivity is doing.

As for solving the world's energy problem, I think having limitless
cheap environmentally clean energy would be the worst thing that could
happen to the planet: imagine what we would do to it then.

hk

Mar 29, 2010, 6:09:18 AM3/29/10
to
On 2010-03-29 02:14:15 +0100, His kennyness said:

>
> Actually, text is good. I certainly would not want a visual programming
> language. But I doubt you have experienced a serious math editor unless
> you have played with this:
>
> http://www.stuckonalgebra.com/index.html

I'd try it, but there seems not to be a mac one yet. Don't get me
wrong - I don't think TeX is the ultimate way of typing in maths, I
just think it can be fairly good. A lot of other systems seem to do
this pull-things-from-a-palette thing which is just abysmal as it means
you can't type things in. MathML also seems to have catastrophically
missed the point as it's so verbose: you can type it but who would want
to?

Of course TeX fails to capture the semantics of the expression at all,
but I think that if you try and do that you likely end up with
something you can't type quickly. And that does matter to people who
are fluent with maths and typing - you want something which is not
enormously slower than handwriting stuff.

(Note none of this means I think TeX is a good programming language: I
don't, it's a shit programming language.)

### Tamas K Papp

Mar 29, 2010, 8:02:54 AM3/29/10
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 2010 11:09:18 +0100, Tim Bradshaw wrote:

> Of course TeX fails to capture the semantics of the expression at all,
> but I think that if you try and do that you likely end up with something
> you can't type quickly. And that does matter to people who are fluent
> with maths and typing - you want something which is not enormously
> slower than handwriting stuff.

I am not sure that I would want to capture semantics when I am typing
math, it would usually add a lot of overhead. A lot symbols/conventions
are used for various different things, depending on the context.

> (Note none of this means I think TeX is a good programming language: I
> don't, it's a shit programming language.)

Although you can program in TeX, very few people think of TeX as a
programming language. Its main focus is not programming, but typing
mathematical text, and that it does rather well (there are no serious
competitors in its market). The "programming" one can do in TeX is
just it for extending the language, and most TeX users don't have to
do any of that.

Even though I am sometimes frustrated with TeX, I admire it as an
achievement. Created decades ago, it is still the most used
typesetting environment for texts that use math. People who dislike
TeX have hard time convincing others, because it TeX gets the job
done, so it is good enough.

Tamas

### e...@infometrics.nl

Mar 29, 2010, 10:04:02 AM3/29/10
to
From a discussion I had years ago with one of Dijkstra's pupils, I was
clearly told that, although Dijkstra was not a Lisper himself,
Dijkstra had a high opinion of Lisp. A well-known quote by Dijkstra
about Lisp (CACM, 15:10) makes this clear:

"Lisp has jokingly been called 'the most
intelligent way to misuse a computer'.
I think that description is a great
compliment because it transmits the full
flavor of liberation: it has assisted a
number of our most gifted fellow humans
in thinking previously impossible
thoughts."

Having known Dijkstra from seminars, yes, he could be very critical.
Even though his criticisms could shock some, he usually had a point,
IMHO. Same for Lisp: it may not be ideal, but do we have anything
better? Look again at the quote above...

Ernst

Mar 29, 2010, 10:41:32 AM3/29/10
to
On 2010-03-29 13:02:54 +0100, Tamas K Papp said:

> I am not sure that I would want to capture semantics when I am typing
> math, it would usually add a lot of overhead. A lot symbols/conventions
> are used for various different things, depending on the context.

I agree with this. I also suspect that for most people who actually do
a lot of maths in their work, the semantics is often pretty vague. I
think people often think of everything being enormously precise, but my
esperience was that there is a fair amount of hand-waving even among
proper mathematicians (I was a physicist so obviously I waved my hands
really a lot).

>
> Although you can program in TeX, very few people think of TeX as a
> programming language. Its main focus is not programming, but typing
> mathematical text, and that it does rather well (there are no serious
> competitors in its market). The "programming" one can do in TeX is
> just it for extending the language, and most TeX users don't have to
> do any of that.

What I specifically meant is that TeX is, I think, unduly abominable if
you need to write non-trivial macros. You can do it, of course, and
people do write very complex packages (witness LaTeX and even plain
TeX), but it just should not need to be that difficult and unpleasant.

>
> Even though I am sometimes frustrated with TeX, I admire it as an
> achievement. Created decades ago, it is still the most used
> typesetting environment for texts that use math. People who dislike
> TeX have hard time convincing others, because it TeX gets the job
> done, so it is good enough.

Yes. I would still use it if I needed to type maths.

### Scott Burson

Mar 31, 2010, 1:19:43 AM3/31/10
to
On Mar 25, 2:39 pm, Mark Tarver <dr.mtar...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote:
>
> David Turner for one.  There is a famous quote from him.
>
> 'It needs to be said very firmly that LISP, at least as represented by
> the dialects in common use, is not a functional language at
> all.  ....... My suspicion is that the success of Lisp set back the
> development of a properly functional style of programming by at least
> ten years.'

I can't speak to that directly, but I do recall that in 1980, when I
was trying to adopt a more functional style in ZetaLisp, I had to
invent some tools to make it easier. I wasn't aware of the work going
on in functional languages, so what I did was somewhat idiosyncratic,
but the point is that I don't recall anyone else around the MIT AI lab
trying to write as much functional code as I was (though I never tried
to write only functionally). I think Lisp always held the potential
for writing at least a fair amount of functional code, but it required
a certain determination and willingness to go against the prevailing
culture to realize that potential.

-- Scott

### Nicolas Neuss

Mar 31, 2010, 3:55:38 AM3/31/10
to

> Of course TeX fails to capture the semantics of the expression at all, but
> I think that if you try and do that you likely end up with something you
> can't type quickly. And that does matter to people who are fluent with
> maths and typing - you want something which is not enormously slower than
> handwriting stuff.

I think this is the most important point. It would probably be very
amusing to see a competition in math typing speed between someone
proficient in TeX (who is additionally using a reasonable environment
like Emacs/AucTeX) and someone proficient in typing math in Word or
similar (are there such people at all?).

OTOH, if you use TeX/LaTeX only rarely, the overhead is large. And
learning LaTeX becomes masochism, if you are not really trained in
structured thinking and/or programming, and you have noone at hand who
sets you straight if you maltreat it as a WYSIWYG system.

Nicolas

### Tamas K Papp

Mar 31, 2010, 4:20:32 AM3/31/10
to
On Wed, 31 Mar 2010 09:55:38 +0200, Nicolas Neuss wrote:

>
>> Of course TeX fails to capture the semantics of the expression at all,
>> but I think that if you try and do that you likely end up with
>> something you can't type quickly. And that does matter to people who
>> are fluent with maths and typing - you want something which is not
>> enormously slower than handwriting stuff.
>
> I think this is the most important point. It would probably be very
> amusing to see a competition in math typing speed between someone
> proficient in TeX (who is additionally using a reasonable environment
> like Emacs/AucTeX) and someone proficient in typing math in Word or
> similar (are there such people at all?).

Since about a year ago, I started using a Wacom Bamboo tablet (the
cheapest one, for about $50) with Xournal on Linux for "writing" math derivations that only have a small audience (ie coauthors, students in a class). I like it very much, but the funny thing is that even though using it feels perfectly natural, it is only about 2x as fast as typing in LaTeX! So I agree with your point completely. > OTOH, if you use TeX/LaTeX only rarely, the overhead is large. And > learning LaTeX becomes masochism, if you are not really trained in > structured thinking and/or programming, and you have noone at hand who > sets you straight if you maltreat it as a WYSIWYG system. I think that the Lamport book is a gentle introduction for such people. Tamas ### Tim Bradshaw unread, Mar 31, 2010, 5:53:09 AM3/31/10 to On 2010-03-31 09:20:32 +0100, Tamas K Papp said: > Since about a year ago, I started using a Wacom Bamboo tablet (the > cheapest one, for about$50) with Xournal on Linux for "writing" math
> derivations that only have a small audience (ie coauthors, students in
> a class). I like it very much, but the funny thing is that even
> though using it feels perfectly natural, it is only about 2x as fast
> as typing in LaTeX! So I agree with your point completely.

I use paper for that... I think I can probably type text faster than I
can coherently write it, but I can handwrite maths faster than I can
type at present. However, at one time I typed maths books for a
living, and I'm fairly sure I could type TeX faster than by hand at
that point. Of course that's a weird case, because you are just
transcriing existing stuff. I would always prefer to write maths
initially (I mean with a pen & paper), because it makes thinking easier
somehow.

>
> I think that the Lamport book is a gentle introduction for such
> people.

I would guess that the youth of today would just reject TeX out of hand
because, you know, it's not pretty. I can remember (somewhere around
the eternal September) when students started appearing who would no
longer accept emacs & TeX for writing stuff, but demanded Word, despite
it being much slower to get anything technical down with Word.

### Nicolas Neuss

Mar 31, 2010, 8:21:44 AM3/31/10
to

> On 2010-03-31 09:20:32 +0100, Tamas K Papp said:
>
>> Since about a year ago, I started using a Wacom Bamboo tablet (the
industry “standard”, by this time, they killed most quality things out
there, then they try to fix the problems... e.g. Apache, MySQL, ... )

### Xah Lee

Apr 9, 2010, 2:54:26 PM4/9/10
to
On Apr 9, 2:17 am, His kennyness <kentil...@gmail.com> wrote:

> ps. What do the dinosaurs think of MathML? The typesetting, I mean.

LOL.

As far as i know, many mathematicians don't like it... cause it is too
verbose to the degree that it is not possible to write manually, while
many of these old mathematicians knows TeX already.

### Xah Lee

Apr 9, 2010, 4:13:00 PM4/9/10
to
On Mar 31, 9:23 am, Kazimir Majorinc <em...@false.false> wrote:
> These are all his non-trivial quotes on Lisp I was able to find
> on EWD archives, also available on my blog:

Great post Kazimir!

I enjoyed your blog, the few times i ran across it in the past.

Also, i recall a month or two back, when you posted a very sensible
twisted into idiotic blathering, by many regular posters here. These
motherfucking idiotic scumbags.

NewLisp... don't remember the detail but it's one about some
expressiveness that can be done with NewLisp but hard with CL, again
attacked by defensive idiot's ramblings ...

I like Dijkstra, even though i don't know much about his work. When i
was reading this thread in the beginning, i thought Dijkstra is rather
research! thanks), things isn't that rosy. I guess i could blame this
partly to the random blatherings and propaganda by the lispers
(including Scheme Lispers) in the past 15 years... who washed my brain
even when i'm quite careful.

I really admire Dijkstra. I guess partly because he's not afraid to
criticize, and partly i guess i truely agree with his math formalism
approach to computation. Sometimes, one feels that his attacks are a
tainted by colorful words. Still, i highly respect him.

speaking of celebrities, this thread mentioned Knuth. I really have
little admiration of Knuth. Of course he's one of the most prominent
computer scientist, but not at all my type. Not his philosophies, his
work, nor his style. In colorful words, the archetype of tech geeking
idiot (nerd ne plus ultra).

Apr 9, 2010, 5:06:23 PM4/9/10
to
On 2010-04-09 16:46:01 +0100, Harald Hanche-Olsen said:

> + His kennyness <kent...@gmail.com>:
>
>> Aha! jsMath!! You just changed my life.
>
> Then take a look at its successor-to-be: http://www.mathjax.org/

That looks interesting. I will have to work out how to embed it into
TiddlyWiki.

### His kennyness

Apr 9, 2010, 5:14:25 PM4/9/10
to
Xah Lee wrote:
> On Mar 27, 4:22 am, His kennyness <kentil...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Francogrex wrote:
>>> On Mar 26, 9:20 pm, His kennyness <kentil...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> More recently, Steele and Norvig.
>>> Show good evidence to back up your claim.
>> How about wild and crazy evidence I don't give a rat's ass what you
>>
>> Steele contributed hugely to an anti-Lisp called Java, and contributed
>> mostly the anti-Lispiness. He should have contributed groovy/scala.
>>
>> Norvig rather famously pronounced Python to be as good as Lisp.
>>
>> Two men who should be advocates for lisp but are not because their
>> masters use something else.
>>
>> Knuth said any idiot can implement a linked list so there is no need for
>> Lisp. Look it up.
>
> if one adds Steele and Norvig as anti lispers, one should also include
> Paul Graham.

Perhaps under the category of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" and
to the extent that is fun having all the gods of Lisp as its biggest
opponents, yes.

But he wrote two great books about Lisp and did a startup incubator that
was pro-Lisp so we might have to make him an honorary opponent.

> Paul with is Arc, and specifically, claims that Common
> Lisp is not good enough,

I accept the Lisp/Common Lisp distinction and while Paul and other
minilisp proponents are Simply Wrong, I would say that makes them
anti-CL not anti-Lisp.

> and by his Arc, also by implication disgrace
> the bunch of Scheme Lisps.

I had not thought of that. Did he cover "why not Scheme?" in his "why
Arc" essay?

kt

### Peter Keller

Apr 9, 2010, 5:33:16 PM4/9/10
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Xah Lee <xah...@gmail.com> wrote:
> These motherfucking idiotic scumbags.

It is really tragic that the knowledge you are able to contribute to
humanity is diluted by your vitriol.

People are not going to remember you for the things you did.

They are going to remember you for the things you said.

Later,
-pete

### His kennyness

Apr 9, 2010, 7:07:24 PM4/9/10
to

Yep, him and John Lennon.

And I do not think you have seen how long is Xah's hair.

kt

### Kazimir Majorinc

Apr 10, 2010, 4:25:54 AM4/10/10
to

Thanx.

Yes, I believe that Dijkstra's opinion on Lisp is accurately described
by this comment:

"Dijkstra did not like Lisp, his compliments about Lisp are always
insults hidden tongue in cheek. If you read his articles you will find
mostly he bashes Lisp for its poor specifications, poor manuals, lack of
clear direction, and its ridiculous artificial intelligence aims which
he was heavily against."

### Pascal J. Bourguignon

Apr 10, 2010, 6:10:41 AM4/10/10
to
m_mo...@yahoo.com (Mario S. Mommer) writes:

What about if you merged LaTeX with an automatic proof checker?

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__

### Pascal J. Bourguignon

Apr 10, 2010, 6:37:53 AM4/10/10
to
Harald Hanche-Olsen <han...@math.ntnu.no> writes:

> + His kennyness <kent...@gmail.com>:
>
>> Aha! jsMath!! You just changed my life.
>
> Then take a look at its successor-to-be: http://www.mathjax.org/

Yes, that's the problem with all these "nice" "intuitive" GUI tools:
they always have a successor, so you are always switching and learning a
new one.

Those who are not left with much time prefer to stick with efficient
stable tools, such as emacs or lisp which have been basically the same
for 30 years, so that we can concentrate on _our_ work, not on the job
of making another software enterpreneur rich or flattered.

--
__Pascal Bourguignon__

### His kennyness

Apr 10, 2010, 7:07:56 AM4/10/10
to
Kazimir Majorinc wrote:
>
> Thanx.
>
> Yes, I believe that Dijkstra's opinion on Lisp is accurately described
> by this comment:
>
> "Dijkstra did not like Lisp, his compliments about Lisp are always
> insults hidden tongue in cheek. If you read his articles you will find
> mostly he bashes Lisp for its poor specifications

heh-heh, nowadays languages do not even have specifications.

>, poor manuals

heh-heh, that's not an objection to a /language/.

>, lack of
> clear direction

heh-heh, Mr. Graham said Lisp was the perfect language when you do not
know what code to write. Is that because Lisp is the language that did
not decide up front what it wanted to be?

>, and its ridiculous artificial intelligence aims which
> he was heavily against."

heh-heh, that's not an objection to a /language/.

kt

### His kennyness

Apr 10, 2010, 7:18:57 AM4/10/10
to
Pascal J. Bourguignon wrote:
> Harald Hanche-Olsen <han...@math.ntnu.no> writes:
>
>> + His kennyness <kent...@gmail.com>:
>>
>>> Aha! jsMath!! You just changed my life.
>> Then take a look at its successor-to-be: http://www.mathjax.org/
>
> Yes, that's the problem with all these "nice" "intuitive" GUI tools:
> they always have a successor, so you are always switching and learning a
> new one.

Go back to bed. We'll wake you when the world is perfect.

>
> Those who are not left with much time prefer to stick with efficient
> stable tools, such as emacs or lisp which have been basically the same
> for 30 years, so that we can concentrate on _our_ work, not on the job
> of making another software enterpreneur rich or flattered.
>

I gather you are not concentrating on doing math on the Web.

kt

### Mario S. Mommer

Apr 10, 2010, 8:53:02 AM4/10/10
to

That would have to be one hell of a proof checker! It would have to
understand natural language, and know what can be "safely assumed" as
being implicit, given the audience. It has to be that way because a
maths paper written like a formal spec of something is not going far,
because of its intrinsic wetware incompatibility. The referees will
absolutely hate you for it. And then you get the "way too technical"
rejection. Which is a good thing, because if such a paper were accepted,

In short, that automatic proof checker has to be a really damn good AI,
of the type Lisp was originally concieved to make happen.

I mean, I'm all for such a program, but I'm a tiny bit skeptical :-)

### Harald Hanche-Olsen

Apr 10, 2010, 9:22:39 AM4/10/10
to
+ p...@informatimago.com (Pascal J. Bourguignon):

> Harald Hanche-Olsen <han...@math.ntnu.no> writes:
>
>> + His kennyness <kent...@gmail.com>:
>>
>>> Aha! jsMath!! You just changed my life.
>>
>> Then take a look at its successor-to-be: http://www.mathjax.org/
>
> Yes, that's the problem with all these "nice" "intuitive" GUI tools:
> they always have a successor, so you are always switching and learning a
> new one.

Eh? Did mathjax suddenly morph into an intuitive GUI tool while I wasn't
looking. Strange.

> Those who are not left with much time prefer to stick with efficient
> stable tools, such as emacs or lisp which have been basically the same
> for 30 years, so that we can concentrate on _our_ work, not on the job
> of making another software enterpreneur rich or flattered.

Or TeX. You hardly get any more stable than that. Come to think of it,
that is what jsmath and mathjax do: They let you type TeX code and have
it transformed into readable math on a web page. Mathjax is just a
better implementation of what jsmath does, and both try to do for the
web what TeX did for paper.

I take it you don't approve of Lisp implementations that haven't been
around for 20 years or more either?

### Xah Lee

Apr 10, 2010, 10:57:53 AM4/10/10
to

it is impractical for TeX to be merged into a proof checking language.
I mean, if it happens, the result would really have nothing to do with
TeX.

However, the idea of combining a system that can display math formulas
and proof checking, or with a so-called computer algebra system, and
also as a computer language, is a common need, and has in fact been
done to various degrees. Mathematica for example, is one. While, most
computer algebra systems (such as Maple), or any math tools used in
physical sciences, all have a math formula display system builtin to

for more detail of this, see:

• Math Notations, Computer Languages, and the “Form” in Formalism
http://xahlee.org/cmaci/notation/index.html

### Xah Lee

Apr 10, 2010, 11:25:28 AM4/10/10
to
2010-04-10

it's been brewing in my mind for a while to write a criticism on Paul
Graham's Arc and his essay about ideal language.

of the various essays of his i read in the past years about Arc or
designing of a lang, his essential idea lies on the concept of
“hacker”. He keeps saying, lang needs to be this or that because
“hacker” is this or that way.

That illusive thing, “hacker”. Whence, one can't really get a precise
idea what he consider as ideal in a language design. I think that is
the main problem, and consquently, whatever he comes up i can't deem
good. (and from seeing what he actually have done with Arc, you know
my opinion of it is shit, and as well it generally isn't well
erlang, OCaml/F#... and far less users than say NewLisp, OCaml, Scheme
Lisps...)

In 2008 i wrote a essay listing tens of new langs that are popularly

• Proliferation of Computing Languages
http://xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/new_langs.html

But in the past 2 years, more have come into the mass radar!!!
Google's Go, Sun Micro's Fortress. All these langs have a bunch of
philosophies and defense on how or why they should exist, with
complaints about how they fill a hole. Some are dubious of course, but
some do seem sensible. If you consider problem space of computing, and
possibilities of imagination, it really has room for new langs.

Though, as far as i see, i can't see any concrete or theoretical merit
of Arc with his “hackers need it!” concept.

Clojure for example, i can justify easily, for one thing, it is a lisp
on JVM, modern lisp without baggage, easy install, independent, or
with concurrency argument. NewLisp, i see merit, for example, it fills
the scripting niche, and for hobbyist coders.

I really hate the word “hacker”. Imagine, what Dijkstra will have to
say about “a lang designed for ‘hacker’?” LOL.

... what society overwhelmingly asks for is snake oil. Of course, the
snake oil has the most impressive names —otherwise you would be
selling nothing— like “Structured Analysis and Design”, “Software
Engineering”, “Maturity Models”, “Ma