Pete Kirkham
I, Pete Kirkham, do solemnly offer these my responses to The Road to Lisp Survey:

When did you first try Lisp seriously, and which Lisp family member was it?
Earlier this year (2003).
What led you to try Lisp?
I'd used it as an undergrad years ago, and various people on the xml-dev mailing list either refer to lisp or to paul graham's writings.
Where did your road originate?
I've been growing increasingly annoyed by Java's verbosity as a prototyping language, and that virtually every system i've worked I've had to implement some form of expression evaluator.

In my day job I do a lot of prototyping of exploritory numerical applications- the aim is to find a solution to a problem, and display the results.I prototype in Java at the moment because it's easy to knock up a GUI which plots the results of a calculation, and the calculations are pretty fast (Hotspot JVMs blow away fortran for math).

But I do find myself repeating the same idioms (generally at a granularity that OO inheritance can't help with) and hand coding the same optimisations (which I can't tell the compiler to do as it's stupid).

Also the number of postings on comp.lang.java.developer that say 'how to I write an expression evaluator' or 'why does Java not have a macro language' made me think about getting somthing better.
How far have you gotten in your study of Lisp?
I've read quite alot of basic stuff getting a better idea of how it's all put together, and am putting together an implementation in Java of a common lisp-related language that suits my needs (macros, iterative development, access to Java's portable GUI libraries, all the tricks I know for numerical optimisations built into the compiler, running on a Hotspot JVM that optimises the native code based on runtime profiling).

What do you think of Lisp so far? Cool. Terse. Small (compared to the Java APIs I'm used to). Hackable.


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