An anecdote on the lead-up to Common Lisp as a standard
In preparing for my The Lisp Machine and GNU talk, I've been reading The Evolution of Lisp. It's interesting.
In particular, I found this bit interesting, on the lead-up to Common Lisp. As context, today Scheme and Common Lisp are the "two big lisps" (as in, multiple implementations... though Scheme maybe has the same problems today as are joked of below), but at the time Interlisp and Maclisp were the two big lisps, but actually had tons of fractured, incompatible implementations.
2.10 Early Common Lisp
If there were no consolidation in the Lisp community at this point, Lisp might have died. ARPA was not interested in funding a variety of needlessly competing and gratuitously different Lisp projects. And there was no commercial arena--yet.
In April 1981, ARPA called a "Lisp Community Meeting", in which the implementation groups got together to discuss the future of Lisp. ARPA sponsored a lot of AI research, and their goal was to see what could be done to stem the tide of an increasingly diverse set of Lisp dialects in its research community.
The day before the ARPA meeting, part of the Interlisp community got together to discuss how to present a situation of a healthy Interlisp community on a variety of machines. The idea was to push the view of a standard language (Interlisp) and a standard environment existing on an ever-increasing number of different types of computers.
The MacLisp-descended groups came off in a way that can be best demonstrated with an anecdote. Each group stood up and presented where they were heading and why. Some questions arose about the ill-defined direction of the MacLisp community in contrast to the Interlisp community. Scott Fahlman said, "the MacLisp community is not in a state of chaos. It consists of four welldefined groups going in four well-defined directions." There was a moment's pause for the laughter to subside [Steele, 1982].
Oof! Reminds me a bit too much of trying to corrall different federation projects for federation standards...
Maybe a ray of hope though: Several people from the MacLisp side did manage to coordinate, and Common Lisp did result from it, which may be one of the most impressive language standardization efforts in history...
Another bit, revolving how to handle extensibility and standards:
One issue that came up early on is worth mentioning, because it is at the heart of one of the major attacks on Common Lisp, which was mounted during the ISO work on Lisp (see section 2.12). This is the issue of modularization, which had two aspects: (1) whether Common Lisp should be divided into a core language plus modules and (2) whether there should be a division into the so-called white, yellow, and red pages. These topics appear to have been blended in the discussion.
"White pages" refers to the manual proper, and anything that is in the white pages must be implemented somehow by a Lisp whose developers claim it is a Common Lisp. "Yellow pages" refers to implementation-independent packages that can be loaded in, for example, TRACE and scientific subroutine packages. The "red pages" were intended to describe implementation-dependent routines, such as device drivers.
Nevertheless, the first question is brought up by a direct reading of the issue: Division of Common Lisp into a core plus modules.
If this were taken to mean a proposal that would have partitioned the language into layers with a central layer and outer layers that depend on the inner ones, then Common Lisp could have been more easily subsetted, which would have led to obvious implementations on smaller machines. This would have satisfied the need to cheap, prolific implementations. This would also have made providing educational versions of the language more readily available. It also would have prevented the strong attack during the ISO meetings by Europe and by, to a lesser degree, Japan.
The response from influential members is revealing: "This seems weird. Motivate it. Maybe these modules are optional at the implementation's choice?" "Keeping things modular is a good goal, but don't expect to succeed completely." "The division only makes a little sense." [?; ?] The group focussed too much on the funny white-yellow-red distinction and not on the corelanguage/extended-language distinction. Had this gone differently, so would have the future of Common Lisp.
Note, this sounds not too unlike the decision to break r7rs into r7rs-small and r7rs-large, for anyone who knows/cares about that in Scheme-land...
Gosh, more good quotes
Carefully deferred was the decision regarding whether () was a symbol. Even though this decision was left until nearly the end of the decision process--causing people to emotionally accept Common Lisp and attach part of their egos to it--when the discussion came up, it was divisive. Symbolics threatened to withdraw from the group unless their position was accepted, and so it was. The salient paragraph from their message is as follows:
We have had some internal discussions about the T and NIL issues. If we were designing a completely new language, we would certainly rethink these, as well as the many other warts (or beauty marks) in Lisp. (We might not necessarily change them, but we would certainly rethink them.) However, the advantages to be gained by changing T and NIL now are quite small compared to the costs of conversion.
The only resolution to these issues that Symbolics can accept is to retain the status quo.
This shows that there are some issues, apparently trivial, that can have a profound influence on people.
Guile 2.2, tomorrow
Tomorrow will be a tremendous day for Guile, as Guile 2.2, a HUGE release in the history of Guile, will come out.
In the meanwhile, you can read Andy Wingo's blogpost about it!
A problem I have: I can follow the mathematical concepts in papers, but not the notation. I don't know how to get past this. It means that I sometimes read programming papers and I'm like right, right, makes sense [EQUATION] mind blanks.
Has anyone else overcome this? How? I have a "my brain learns best by experimenting" mode, maybe I need to play more with... something?
Craig Maloney likes this.Show all 8 replies
I found certain mathematical notations easier to follow once I learned Haskell. In many cases, I only have to squint to ascii-ize symbols to their Haskell equivilants. Also mathy variable naming stuff like
a'is idiomatic in Haskell.
Christopher Allan Webber likes this.
Put in a column near the equation, the meaning of each variable.
Then use differentcolors to highlight each variable (both in the explanation column, and in the equations).
Draw circles/strikes around/on part of equations that make sense by temselves, or represent a concept, or are transformed into other thing in the next step (in a similar way as teacher does in the blackboard while they explain things).
Maybe look for videos explaining the theorems etc (since they visually show all these techniques, I guess).
HTHI have the same "thought lazyness" problem, with mind starting to get white noize when reading scientific equations or also with musical scores (that I passed both years to learn at academy and school... )
I think what worked was to use them not only in a passive way (reading) but active (writing) ... and it is also the same with code I think.
so maybe trying yourself to put some concept of yours into equations with LaTex could help ?
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Doing Practice Management
Applied for an "NPI" number from the Department of Health and Human Services for my sister. She's a Licensed Massage Therapist. This will put her on the path to being able to bill insurance in her own name rather than as part of a practice.
Craig Maloney likes this.
ActivityStreams is going to PR! Whoo!Show all 5 replies
Yeah @Mike Linksvayer has the right link. What it means is that the standard has gone through the (lonnnnng) process of group consensus on making a standard that the group believes is ready to be submitted to the W3C Advisory Committee to be accepted or not as an official standard. It implies a high level of confidence, and a mountain of work, to get to that stage. Hopefully next we'll wee the committee sign off on it being a recommendation.
I just cannot follow USPolitics@hub.polari.us anymore. It is bad enough being a civil servant. For various ones of us at work, we keep looking for different places to eat lunch now as the mess hall has multiple TVs playing with CNN, FNC, and more. It is bad enough dealing with the metaphorical dumpster fires of people's lives on the phone calling in. The mess in DC isn't something to slather on top too.
Before and afterI don't know how long I can keep using this Eee PC, but before retiring it I thought I would have a little fun and update its appearance by swapping out the keyboard. Just having a little fun. :)
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- And Inkscape project has released a bug fix for 0.92. Nice! http://www.peppercarrot.com/en/article399/new-inkscape-0-92-1-fixes-your-previous-works-done-with-in...
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High school me is bummed out that republicans are giving the term "alternative" some terrifying new definitions.Show all 7 replieshttps://plus.google.com/photos/photo/105231229310223877182/6378858983797148658?icm=false
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common, they don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views."
a community station that I did a show on back in the 90s had stickers out for a while with "radio is my bomb" on them :-) .
which sort of gets to the point really - to avoid stupidy such as war by encouraging more open discussion.
back then there wasn't as much of that silly self-censorship disease that we see everywhere nowdays.
Tom Smith just put out a song called "Alternative Facts": https://tomsmith.bandcamp.com/track/alternative-facts
Someone please start a startup to "automate away the CEO". It's as viable as "automating" away other jobs, and could help the top feel the pressure that the rest of the workforce is.
The general blueprint is out there; most automating away of "deskjobs" involves AI / statistics assisted workers making real decisions and actions for cheap. The profit margins / budget here could be a lot larger because CEO salaries are so large.
"But how do you convince a CEO to replace themselves?" Don't. Target the board and investors, and promise a better ROI. A team of AI-backed people working on a fraction of a CEO salary? They can probably pull it off.
And given how much money you could save, you could have the company send a representative to board meetings, etc.
https://qz.com/886594/the-skills-your-kids-should-cultivate-to-be-competitive-in-the-age-of-automation/ says CEOS are robot-proof jobs because they are unpredictable.
I talked with my father last night who went on for a while about something that I think I agree pretty strongly with. There probably was Russian interference with the election, but the Democratic establishment is focusing on it like a scapegoat, and we're losing the opportunity we should be using at this time: to reflect on how we might change the Democratic party.Show all 6 repliesI would like the Democratic party to embrace its name and focus on voter registration and making it easier to vote. A lot of voters were effectively disenfranchised for this election after the Voting Rights was gutted.I've avoided following this story beyond headlines...can anyone tell me if Russian 'interference' in US election included anything actually bad? If system not resilient to new and possibly wrong information, that's it's own problem. The US has has regularly interfered through other jurisdictions' elections more forcefully.
Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.
@email@example.com theoretically at least the DNC is. They held a forum here last week and I went to observe. The candidates for prez and veep of the DNC took questions. Most were about supporting local groups and decentralization.
It was live-streamed. Don't know if it's still available.
Sarah Elkins likes this.
- I would like the Democratic party to embrace its name and focus on voter registration and making it easier to vote. A lot of voters were effectively disenfranchised for this election after the Voting Rights was gutted.
So apparently the "Agat" computer is a not-as-good Soviet knockoff of the Apple II, but man does it look cool.
- I recall Evan Prodromou in particular predicting that equity crowdfunding would be a boon to boiler room operations.
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