Didier Verna didier at lrde.epita.fr
Sat May 9 09:22:20 UTC 2020

  Hi all,

nice to read this reach-out thread on an otherwise rather silent list!

Here's my contribution.

Like some of you, I work in the academy with Lisp, which is not always
easy, but always gratifying. As a professor of computer science, I have
the opportunity to use it in two courses: one on functional programming
(along with Haskell) and another one on OO, which is also a good way to
show some MOP to young students ;-) I don't think there are many places
left in France where undergrads see some Lisp, so I struggle to maintain

I came to CL around 2006, which is rather late in my career, but
something I rarely related is how I came to Lisp (as a family of
dialects). Back in the early 90s, as an undergraduate, I had a course on
neural nets and a 3 hours practical session in which we had to implement
one for character recognition on 32x32 B/W images IIRC. I believe we had
to to it in some version of Scheme and this was my first encounter with
the language. Later on, during my PhD, I worked on cognitive science and
virtual reality, and I developed an application in C with OpenGL, for
which I felt the need to add a scripting language for easy
customization. The little memory I had of Scheme made me turn to Guile,
which, at the time, was quite easy to interface with C. At the same
time, I became involved in XEmacs and eventually became one of the core
maintainers for several years.

The funny thing is that those experiences didn't really trigger a
vocation; merely some interest. Probably because I just hadn't thought
the whole thing through, I still continued to program in C for various
things. Until I started to write Clon (my command-line options
management library), at least the early version, in C. There, I vividly
remember getting more and more annoyed by the day, having to deal with
low-level stuff (such as memory management) by hand. And I started
wondering why I was still using that language, in spite of being
completely free of my own choices. Then, I sort of suddenly remembered I
liked Lisp, grabbed Graham's book on CL, and started rewriting Clon in
Lisp. That was my first involvement with the language...

Retrospectively, I'm still puzzled that it took me so long so
acknowledge... my own taste. It's like Lisp was always there, in the
back of my head, but I just hadn't realized it. Funny how things work.

Stay safe!

Resistance is futile. You will be jazzimilated.

Lisp, Jazz, Aïkido: http://www.didierverna.info

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