ARCHIVE / What is Lisp?

The Lisp programming language is one of the oldest computer languages still in use.  The name comes from an abbreviation of "list processing", which was and remains Lisp's focus.  Everything in Lisp is a list, including its own source code.  The advantage of using Lisp is that it allows for the simple definition of complex recursive functionality.  The disadvantage of using Lisp is that it is difficult to use the language for the development of complex applications.  This is not to say that it cannot be done; the Emacs editor is a, if not the, primary example of an extremely complex application written in its own dialect of Lisp.  However, because Lisp does not offer machine-level control nor support for object-oriented programming features such as inheritance, it is more often used as a scripting language for other applications, such as AutoLisp for AutoCAD, or for teaching abstract concepts in computer science.

last updated 2007.09.23

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