Abelson and Python

markscottwright markscottwright at gmail.com
Thu Nov 23 02:56:02 CET 2006

bearophileHUGS at lycos.com wrote:
> While studying the SICP video lectures I have to twist my mind some to
> completely understand the lessons. I implement the programs shown there
> in both Python and Scheme, and I find the Python implementations
> simpler to write (but it's not a fair comparison because I know very
> little Scheme still).
> Now some things are changing:
> http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/1840
> >The MIT is going to change its curriculum structure that was famous for teaching Scheme in introductory courses. One force behind the reform is no one else than Harold Abelson, famous for his marvelous Scheme opus SICP.<
> >The first four weeks of C1 will be a lot like the first four weeks of 6.001, Abelson said. The difference is that programming will be done in Python and not Scheme.<

I am shocked by this.  I love Python as much as the next guy, but I
just don't see how SICP can be done in Python.  Chapters 1-3, sure.
But chapter 4 has you writing a Scheme interpreter in Scheme, and
chapter 5 has you writing a Scheme compiler in Scheme.  I don't see how
that can be done in Python - certainly not in one chapter of a
textbook.  Am I to believe that students will be writing a Python
metacircular evaluator?  If it were that easy, the PyPy guys would be
done by now.

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