The Little Schemer book club - next steps?

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Joel Chippindale

Jul 1, 2014, 4:35:39 AM7/1/14
Overall the last Little Schemer book club meeting felt a bit 'low energy' to me compared with previous meetings.

Perhaps this was just because it was quite a muggy evening, or my rather faltering vim skills, or that we were missing regulars Jamie and Murray, but it made me wonder whether it was because we're not quite sure what direction we're heading in so I thought it would be worth opening this up for discussion.

In the early meetings our focus was on writing a scheme interpreter and letting the Little Schemer book guide us in this. In recent meetings our parser has largely already been up to the task of interpreting the scheme in the book and so the focus has shifted to the book.

From my perspective I think of the two, I am more interested in writing an interpreter than in the Little Schemer book. I understand I may be an outlier on this given that this is the Little Schemer book club. Either way if we, as a group, were more interested in than writing an interpreter than in following the book then we may want to split away from the book at this point.

Some possible next steps would be:

1. Stick with the book and continue as we are. This makes most sense if we are interested in exploring scheme and the Little Schemer book.

2. Or, given that we have at least 4 scheme interpreters written in Ruby available to us - our one, Tom Stuart's one(?), James Coglan's one(?) and James Adam's one, and perhaps more if anyone else has been working on their own, it might be interesting to spend a meeting comparing the implementations and discussing the different design decisions taken in them. This makes most sense if we are most interested in interpreters and feel that we've tackled many of the interesting problems that are involved in writing a scheme interpreter in Ruby.

3. Or those people who have written interpreter's before could suggest that there are some further problems that we would be interesting to tackle with our interpreter and so we should look at these (this may overlap with suggestion 1. above) next.

What do you want to do?


James Adam

Jul 1, 2014, 10:21:51 AM7/1/14
to Joel Chippindale,
Without the intention of steering you towards any option, I’d be happy to be involved in a discussion about implementations whenever the time comes. That said, I think the more of the Scheme our interpreters can handle, the more interesting that discussion will be.

— James
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Joel Chippindale

Jul 3, 2014, 3:30:43 AM7/3/14
to Murray Steele,
This sounds like it could be a good plan. How about we kick off the next meeting with a quick decisions about whether to sneak ahead and define define or stick with the book and run through chapter 7 'Friends and Relations?

On this note we usually have book clubs 3 weeks apart except where the next date would clash with LRUG in which case we have them 2 weeks apart. This next meeting falls into the latter category which would make it this coming Monday 7th July*

I've added this to Lanyrd (, so do let us know whether you can make it


* I realise this is short notice so if a significant number of us can't make it then we'll shift the date

On 1 July 2014 16:59, Murray Steele <> wrote:
The thing that’s obviously missing from our scheme is define.  Maybe we get that out of the way.  I think everything should be in place for us to handle that.  I’d suggest that our next meeting we do that.

I do think that the book is now significantly more interesting to just follow along with now, as opposed to the first few chapters where it was “what is atom? - atom is atom” style, so I’d also be happy to keep going with the book as well.  Perhaps we can alternate book learning with scheme implementing?

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James Mead

Jul 3, 2014, 5:34:40 AM7/3/14
I am mostly interested in implementing the interpreter, but I'm also interested in what else the book has to offer. I believe one of the later chapters is about implementing a scheme interpreter in scheme which I would've thought might have some relevance. So I think I'd prefer to keep working through the book, but be prepared to skip sections which don't help us much with the interpreter. I'm also interested in comparing the different interpreter implementations. My current plan is still to try to read up to chapter 6 of the book in preparation for the next meeting as we agreed.

Cheers, James.
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