Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What about LISP?

  1. May 22, 2006 #1
    I would like to learn some programming. What about LISP? Is that easy to learn? Is it a 'beautiful' language? What software do I need to do some basic programming in LISP? I heard it's been used in AI a lot.

    I also have MATLAB on my computer. Can I do interesting and easy-to-learn programming with MATLAB?

    thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2006 #2

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Lisp is almost a purely "academic" language these days. In other words, no one writes any serious programs in it. It has features and flexibility that few other languages offer, which is why it is used in textbook AI programs. On the other hand, it is neither beautiful nor intuitive nor easy to use.

    If you're new to programming in general, I strongly suggest you look at Python, http://www.python.org/

    It actually includes many of the features of Lisp (i.e. symbolic computation), but also includes the best features of many other languages, including C++ and Perl, but is fantastically simple and easy to understand.

    - Warren
     
  4. May 22, 2006 #3

    nrqed

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I wanted to suggest Python too but Chroot beat me to it :smile:
    But in my case, the suggestion is a bit selfish...I am learning it now so it would help to have someone around asking questions too :tongue2:

    As an aside, I am almost computer illiterate and I installed it on my desktop with no problem, so it is easy to get it up and running.

    Patrick
     
  5. May 22, 2006 #4

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think I am going to have to learn either LISP or Pascal for my Cog Sci labs. I know virtually nothing about these languages.
     
  6. May 22, 2006 #5
    How is lisp NOT easy? It's definitely easier for a beginner than C or Java. I'm not saying I don't agree with you on python though.
     
  7. May 23, 2006 #6
    Thanks!

    So let's learn Python.
     
  8. May 23, 2006 #7

    nrqed

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Great!!

    You probably have all this already, but 3 useful sites are

    http://www.python.org

    to download.

    http://docs.python.org

    for documentation (I think there is a link to it from the previous web site)

    http://www.vpython.org

    to do cool 3-d animations very easily.


    I will be keeping an eye here to see if you are posting questions so that I can learn from the answers provided to you!
    If you look within the next few days you will see two of my Python questions answered.

    Regards

    Patrick
     
  9. May 23, 2006 #8
    That's an odd combination. Are you sure it isn't Lisp or Haskell?

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'll admit that my interest in Lisp at this point is purely academic, but that doesn't necessarily make it any less interesting. I wish I had learned it as my first programming language. You might want to look at this:
    http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/introduction-why-lisp.html


    On the other hand, I'd like to learn Python too, when I have some free time - hah hah.
     
  10. May 23, 2006 #9

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I didn't see anything about "Haskell". I have to choose one of these labs:

    Cognitive Science Laboratory: Introduction to Theory and Simulation (involves simulations written in common LISP)
    or
    Cognitive Science Laboratory: Neural Networks (involves simulations written in Pascal)

    There are two other labs, "Psychophysical Theories and Methods" and "Neuroinformatics Studio", but these don't mention a programming language.
     
  11. May 24, 2006 #10
    OK, ignore my comment about Haskell. I mentioned that only because they (Lisp, Haskell) are often lumped together as "functional" programming languages.

    Based on the catalog descriptions, both of those courses sound fascinating. I've never written any Pascal, but I've read some, and it's similar enough to C that it would be easier to learn than Lisp. But you would probably never use it again after that course. I understand that "everybody" was taught Pascal in the '80s and early '90s, but I don't think anybody writes it anymore. So, as intriguing as the neural networks lab sounds, I'd still rather learn how to write simulations in Lisp. Probably more work though.

    PS: Here's a link to a talk on Lisp that Peter Seibel gave recently at google in NYC. It runs about 1 hr (279Mb):
    http://vp.video.google.com/videodow...&begin=0&len=4324668&docid=448441135356213813

    and you can find his book "Practical Common Lisp" here:
    http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/
     
  12. May 25, 2006 #11

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thank you for those links, gnome. I hope I can play around a little bit with Lisp this summer. What do you use for a development environment? I found this "Lisp in a Box" package:
    http://common-lisp.net/project/lispbox/
    Have you used that SLIME IDE for emacs? This is all completely foreign to me. I rarely venture outside of Visual Studio for anything, so this is intimidating. :redface:
     
  13. May 25, 2006 #12
    I have emacs/slime running in linux (with "steel bank common lisp" in my Gentoo machine and clisp in an old RedHat one). I haven't had much time to play with it during the school year so it'll be one of several summer projects for me too. You will find emacs to be pretty bewildering at first. But from the little bit of dabbling that I've managed to do, I'm thoroughly convinced that it will be worth the pain. We can commiserate over the summer. :smile:

    That Lisp-in-a-Box is what you want; even though emacs seems to be completely unintuitive at first (at least it does to me), the "people who know" seem to agree that the emacs/slime combination is most convenient environment for working with Lisp. emacs includes a tutorial which helps a little.

    Just grab the base installer and the Clisp module from that lispbox page. You don't need the Allegro modules.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: What about LISP?
  1. Common LISP vs Pascal (Replies: 1)

  2. Emacs Lisp weirdness? (Replies: 6)

  3. Lisp : building a list (Replies: 0)

  4. AutoCAD Lisp Problem (Replies: 1)

Loading...