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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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Build Your Own Lisp for Great Justice
Bodil works as a computer science researcher for a secretive think tank, and is a world renowned expert in varied fields such as pizza and persistent data structures. Contrary to popular rumour, she only has five fingers on each hand, but is still an Emacs user.