As I mentioned in a previous post I am attempting to write chapter summary of books as I read them. Along side OnLisp I am also attempting to read Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence, the first edition. This is available for free online and importantly uses and teaches common lisp. I think later editions, while presenting more modern and perhaps more interesting AI have moved on from lisp. My current goal is learning Common Lisp but if I happen to learn some old skool AI along the way I am good with that.
It is a big book so I may skip the occasional chapter. This post covers the introduction and chapter one.
The prologue as you would expect is a fairly standard affair and just discuss the book and how to read it. It present a series of routes through the book. I may end up using this to chart a path through the book.
Moving onto chapter 1, where lisp is introduced and there is much talk of the advantages of Lisp. Some of the points raised are no longer relevant in a modern context, particularly some of the discussions about typed programming languages or lambda functions. Lambda functions have made their way into most popular programming languages and typed programming languages have upped their game since 1990. I agree typed languages are not ideal for many situation, I mean if I didn’t why would I be learning lisp?
It is also the third “chapter 1” of a lisp book I have read in the past month. So perhaps I am being a little hard on it.
Otherwise it is a reasonable introduction. I certainly did not feel I was reading a book from 1990. Most of the discussion was informative, very well written, and presented. The author also mentioned if you have some experience with lisp you could skim/skip chapter one.
I did learn a couple of things but I think if you a have worked through Practical Common Lisp that a quick skim of the chapter is enough.
I flicked through the book and many of the chapters look very interesting. I get the feeling I am going to wish I read this book a long time ago. I can only imagine what a 1990 version of me would have made of it. Or where I would be if I had managed to internalise this stuff at that stage in my life.