Why aren't we all speaking LISP now?

Konrad Hinsen hinsen at cnrs-orleans.fr
Wed May 9 14:25:34 CEST 2001

Laura Creighton <lac at cd.chalmers.se> writes:

> What sort of teaching did the rest of you that took computer science
> courses get?

Nothing of any use, neither theoretical nor practical. In order to get
some required credits (as a physics major), I signed up for a course
on systems programming, in which we were taught C. But all C examples
required a special header file that made C acceptable for the
Pascal-minded professor, e.g. #define BEGIN {

For the practical part, I chose the Z80 assembler course, for which
there was no waiting queue. Having written a complete Z80 assembler in
hand-translated machine code, I probably taught more the teaching
assistants than I learned from them.

Most physics students chose Fortran training, of course, but from what
I heard that wasn't much more useful either.

So I ended up learning programming from books and by practicing on my
own machine at home. Including Lisp, which I found fascinating, even
though mostly useless for my applications. The same goes for
Smalltalk. Real-life code (in computational physics) was written in
Fortran and later (when I could safely ignore mainframes) in C. Until
I met Python, which has many of the fascinating aspects of Lisp and
Smalltalk, but is actually useful for my work. That's why I am writing
this in a Python newsgroup...

Konrad Hinsen                            | E-Mail: hinsen at cnrs-orleans.fr
Centre de Biophysique Moleculaire (CNRS) | Tel.: +33-
Rue Charles Sadron                       | Fax:  +33-
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