In a recent interview posted on ACM Queue
, Alan Kay described a starting revelation:
Stuart Feldman If nothing else, Lisp was carefully defined in terms of Lisp.
Alan Kay Yes, that was the big revelation to me when I was in graduate school when I finally understood that the half page of code on the bottom of page 13 of the Lisp 1.5 manual was Lisp in itself. These were Maxwells Equations of Software! This is the whole world of programming in a few lines that I can put my hand over.
Here's the page in question:
Defining Lisp in terms of Lisp is something of a tradition. One of the best books I've ever read about programming is Lisp in Small Pieces
by Christian Queinnec:
Christian explains fundamental elements of computer science by implementing each element in a series of interpreters and compilers.
I'm tempted to try to sum this post up with a heavy conclusion, to try to derive some deep meaning from this. But you know, if you see the world the way I do, the meaning is obvious, I'd just be preaching to the choir.
I'll take the pretentious way out and close with an ancient quote:Do not walk in the footsteps of the sages. Instead, seek what they sought