Python is far from a top performer according to benchmark test...

Jacek Generowicz jacek.generowicz at
Tue Jan 13 14:14:38 CET 2004

michele.simionato at (Michele Simionato) writes:

> But it is successful! Look at people working on AI, theory of programming
> languages, etc: they will (presumably) know Lisp. OTOH, look at people
> working on number crunching: they will (presumably) know Fortran.
> It turns out that the number of people working on numerical analysis (or 
> using numerical tools) is much larger than the number of people working on 
> abstract things, so you will have more people knowing Fortran than people 
> knowing Lisp. But this fact alone does not mean that one language is more
> successfull than the other in its application niche. You could compare
> Python and Perl (or Ruby) and say that one is more successful than
> the other, but Lisp and Fortran have different audiences and you cannot 
> estimate their success just as number of users.

Lest anyone infer that Lisp has an "application niche" consisting of
AI and theory of programming languages ... take a look at

and glance at the column on the left.

I suspect that Aahz' working definition of "successful" had more to do
with success in terms of popularity, rather than success in terms of
technical excellence: please remember that quality and popularity are
very weakly correlated.

If you want to analyze the popularity of a technology, you will get
far better insight by studying the sociological and historical
contexts surrounding it rather then its actual technical merits.

For example, how many readers of this post will be surprised to learn
that (most) Common Lisp implementations compile to efficient native
machine code, that Common Lisp has an ANSI standard which includes
very powerful support for object-oriented programming (to name but two
features that everybody "knows" it doesn't have) ?

Go on, raise your hand if you thought that "Lisp" is a slow,
interperted functional langugage.

You will need to take, amongst many other things, the abundance of
such (non-)facts into consideration, if you want to understand Lisp
lack of "success".

Similarly, the "success" of C++ probably has more to do with having
introduced OOP to the C programmers of the world, that with its
suitability for doing OOP.

...Please don't assume Lisp is only useful for Animation and Graphics,
AI, Bioinformatics, B2B and E-Commerce, Data Mining, EDA/Semiconductor
applications, Expert Systems, Finance, Intelligent Agents, Knowledge
Management, Mechanical CAD, Modeling and Simulation, Natural Language,
Optimization, Research, Risk Analysis, Scheduling, Telecom, and Web
Authoring just because these are the only things they happened to
list.                                                  -- Kent Pitman

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