297: Lisp Cycles
Title text: I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the MIT computer science program permamently.
Lisp is one of the oldest high level programming languages. Despite being ahead of its time, it never got enough traction and is not widely used. However, it is considered to be a very powerful language even in the present day. Quotes on Lisp shows that several big names of computer science field hold Lisp in very high esteem. Eric S. Raymond goes as far as to say:
- Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot.
Lisp is also famous for its use of fully parenthesized Polish prefix notation.
In the first panel, Cueball praises Lisp, noticing that no other language can still match the awe that it strikes despite the age that Lisp has.
In the second panel, Cueball wonders that new programmers will continue learning the "Lisp arts" that make better programmers.
The third panel rerferences Star Wars. Obi Wan Kenobi said these lines when he gave a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker:
- Your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
The title text is also a reference to Star Wars lines:
- The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.
The MIT mentioned in the title text is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an institute fundamental to the development of Lisp (and Scheme, which is a version of Lisp). For about 20 years, MIT taught Scheme in its introduction to computer science course, 6.001.
- [Cueball is sitting at a computer, and Megan is standing behind the desk.]
- Cueball: Lisp is over half a century old and it still has this perfect, timeless air about it.
- Cueball: I wonder if the cycles will continue forever. A few coders from each new generation rediscovering the Lisp arts.
- [Man in Jedi robes carrying a towering stack of parentheses in his arms, speaking to Hairy.]
- Jedi: These are your father's parentheses. Elegant weapons. For a more... civilized age.