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Implementing a toy Lisp interpreter is practically a rite of passage for the budding computer scientist. This hallowed tradition is described in detail in "Lisp in Small Pieces," the seminal work on the making of Lisps, but everybody loves a tl;dr, so let's do the 40 minute executive summary.
We'll charge at high speed through the following topics, with Clojure code to follow along with as we go (because there's no better language for implementing a Lisp than another Lisp)
- Parsing: turning text files into ASTs
- Fundamental Lisp datatypes
- McCarthy's elementary functions.
- Evaluating Lisp code
- Lambdas and lexical scope
- Your friend, the state monad
- Beyond Lisp: pattern matching and type systems
When we're done, you'll be ready to go forth and fill the world with Lisps of all shapes, colours and Greenspun violations for Great Justice. Also, it'll be good fun.
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Bodil is a compulsive conference speaker in the fields of functional programming and internets technologies, and is a co-organiser of multiple developer conferences in Scandinavia and the UK, mostly because she’s still learning how to stop.