[Baypiggies] M.I.T. to drop Scheme in favor of Python

Alec Flett alecf at flett.org
Fri May 29 22:10:59 CEST 2009

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 11:53 AM, David Knupp <knupp at well.com> wrote:

> On Apr 6, 2009, at 9:31 AM, Aahz wrote:
>  (There's a joke that writing a web framework is the Python equivalent of
>> working through SICP.)
> I remember this quip being posted to the list several weeks ago. Well, it
> turns out that it was prescient. M.I.T. has apparently made the historic
> decision to teach their introductory 6.001 course using Python instead of
> Scheme! (My apologies if this has been mentioned before, and I somehow
> missed it.)
> Here are some relevant links:
> http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/learning/coursework/
> the_end_of_an_era_1.shtml
> http://blog.snowtide.com/2009/03

I find this quote particularly interesting:
 Critically, this is the world for which scheme was originally designed.
Building larger programs out of a group of very small, understandable pieces
is what things like recursion and functional programming are built for.

The irony of this for me was that when I was learning Scheme in college, the
actual implementation of Scheme itself was a total mystery. It was just this
magical thing that 'just worked' - I could understand C and Pascal because I
could understand what they compiled down to. It took me at least 5 years of
professional experience after college before I really understood how a
higher-order language was implemented.

So at least for me, writing is Scheme was about building on a complex,
hard-to-understand piece, even if the language itself was small and easy to
understand and write in. Frankly it doesn't seem much different than Python
in that context!

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