Lisp

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On Lisp Paul Graham
Practical Common Lisp Peter Seibel
Common Lisp - An Interactive Approach Stuart C. Shapiro
Basic Lisp Techniques David J. Cooper, Jr.
     

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Lisp is a family of computer programming languages with a long history and a distinctive fully-parenthesized syntax. Originally specified in 1958, Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language in widespread use today; only Fortran is older. Like Fortran, Lisp has changed a great deal since its early days, and a number of dialects have existed over its history. Today, the most widely-known general-purpose Lisp dialects are Common Lisp and Scheme.

Lisp was originally created as a practical mathematical notation for computer programs, based on Alonzo Church's lambda calculus. It quickly became the favored programming language for artificial intelligence research. As one of the earliest programming languages, Lisp pioneered many ideas in computer science, including tree data structures, automatic storage management, dynamic typing, object-oriented programming, and the self-hosting compiler.

The name Lisp derives from "List Processing". Linked lists are one of Lisp languages' major data structures, and Lisp source code is itself made up of lists. As a result, Lisp programs can manipulate source code as a data structure, giving rise to the macro systems that allow programmers to create new syntax or even new "little languages" embedded in Lisp.

The interchangeability of code and data also give Lisp its instantly recognizable syntax. All program code is written as s-expressions, or parenthesized lists. A function call or syntactic form is written as a list with the function or operator's name first, and the arguments following; for instance, a function f that takes three arguments might be called using (f x y z).

Lisp was invented by John McCarthy in 1958 while he was at MIT. McCarthy published its design in a paper in Communications of the ACM in 1960, entitled "Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine, Part I"[1](Part II was never published). He showed that with a few simple operators and a notation for functions, one can build a Turing-complete language for algorithms.

Lisp was first implemented by Steve Russell on an IBM 704 computer. Russell had read McCarthy's paper, and realized (to McCarthy's surprise) that the eval function could be implemented as a Lisp interpreter.

The first complete Lisp compiler, written in Lisp, was implemented in 1962 by Tim Hart and Mike Levin at MIT.[2] This compiler introduced the Lisp model of incremental compilation, in which compiled and interpreted functions can intermix freely. The language used in Hart and Levin's memo is much closer to modern Lisp style than McCarthy's earlier code.