Re: Lisp, the secret weapon.

From: Chuck Murcko (
Date: Tue May 01 2001 - 09:23:38 PDT

On Tuesday, May 1, 2001, at 02:07 AM, Larry Masinter wrote:

> The problem with Lisp (I think I can claim to be an expert) is that
> it hides so much of the execution and implementation model that
> most Lisp programmers were hopeless when it came to figuring out
> performance. Because Lisp manages storage, programmers were wanton
> in their use of memory; because Lisp hides the implementation of
> common operations and the users didn't have to know how fast anything
> was, they would write abysmally awful programs.
> The only really good Lisp programmers were the ones who had
> actually built the Lisp libraries or at least read the sources
> and were able to take into account what was actually happening.

Actually this idea seems to hold for other languages I have experience
with. All the really good coders know what's going on under the covers
in the language; I think you're pointing out the thickness of the covers
for Lisp here?

Prolog has the same problem once you get past resolving excessive

The higher level the language, the greater the risk of this, for the

> Often the more the language and system hide in the interest
> of reducing complexity, the more problems you have when it
> comes to performance.

Ada? 8^)

> As for available libraries, well, certainly there were extensive
> Common Lisp libraries in the 80s, but I guess a lot of them have
> disappeared from circulation.

Haven't some of them been integrated into the current distros? Not being
a Lisp'er, it sure looks that way from the FAQ.

Chuck Murcko
Topsail Group

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