Thursday, October 13

More newbie thoughts on Lisp

It's become obvious with the code I've been writing recently that Lisp's strength and weaknesses are all tied to it's lack of syntax. The fact it has very little in the way of syntax leads to a combinatorial explosion - there are an almost infinite number of ways to do simple things: it makes me wonder if the whole purpose of strong syntax in languages isn't simply to prevent this, and guide the energies of programmers into productive channels. It certainly was the case in C and Fortran where syntax was carefully constructed to enable mapping high level language to machine instructions a straightforward transformation.

However the lack of syntax has to be an achilles heel: the huge number of idioms that could be applied to simple programs means no two coders are going to write anything neccesarily similar. I'm assming the full set of coders of all levels of competence here. I expect a smaller set of seasoned coders would converge on similar solutions given similar problems. Which makes it a devastating weapon in the hands of a sesoned coder, but probably in a team of mixed abilities it would lead to much higher communication oveheads.

No comments: