LISP is Too Powerful by David Nolen

Lisp is simply too powerful.

Looking at concrete examples in Clojure and ClojureScript David
demonstrates the unsuitability of using a modern Lisp to solve
real world problems.

By the end of the talk you'll be convinced that less flexible
languages and weaker abstractions are better suited to meet
today's software engineering problems.

Pizza, beer and soft drinks provided by Meetup.

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  • Anne

    I'm considering going to http://www.wyncode.co but they don't offer LISP. http://www.hackerschool.com is too expensive (living in the city). anyone know alternative options?

    April 30

    • Nick C.

      Most "bootcamp" programs have quite a narrow focus and use mainstream technologies, e.g. Ruby on Rails, Python or iOS. It would be cool to find one that uses Lisp but I'd be surprised! Hacker School isn't a bootcamp so it doesn't really fit into that model (it has plenty of Lisp programmers!)

      April 30

    • Anne

      Thanks for the input. I'm still searching. I think I found a pretty good online alternative called Thinkful

      June 11

  • Timothy O.

    This was a great talk. I'd love to send a video link to developers not familiar with Lisp. Is there a video link available?

    May 29, 2013

    • Raymond de L.

      Seriously thinking of renaming my upcoming talk to "Lisp is Not Powerful Enough". :-)

      May 29, 2013

    • Jonathan R.

      how about a new language called Goldilocks?

      May 29, 2013

  • Sami B.

    David Nolen gave a very provocative speech. It was funny but he did not answer the question. LISP was decades ahead of other languages. Why did it not become a mainstream languages?

    I have thought about this for a few day and put my thoughts in a blog post:

    http://blog.samibadawi.com/2013/05/lisp-prolog-and-evolution.html

    1 · May 17, 2013

    • Jim P.

      DARPA stopped funding Lisp projects because Lisp became synonymous with all the early AI research. That research was promising to crack high-level intelligence in a relatively short order. While many important research goals were met, AI research up through the 80s failed to deliver anywhere near the claims of the AI research community. The problem wasn't Lisp, it was naive and unrealistic claims from AI researchers that soured DARPA. The fall of Lisp was collateral damage.

      May 17, 2013

    • David B.

      Before the web days, a language had to had proper UI library for some major platform. Lisp did not - yes, I have developed in Allegro CommonLisp for Macintosh, but they inevitably got behind and did not implement all facets of that toolbox. And on other platforms, I never found a solid truly extensive UI library in any Lisp.

      In these web days, a language has to have a proper MVC-based web framework to survive.

      Tcl/Tk just doesn't cut it, in the end. Well, unless you are artificially kept alive, like Ada or Haskell, by big interest or Academia.

      May 17, 2013

  • Owein

    What's the title of the paper on lazy evaluation of pattern matching which was mentioned at the talk? I'd really like to read it.

    May 16, 2013

  • Rocky B.

    I liked the talk overall but the hook wore a little bit on me. "Lisp is too powerful - why would anyone want to do [some interesting thing]?" And that this played into what felt to me like a somewhat uncritical complacent audience. Many of the other languages in fact have similar power (copied from Lisp or a LISP derivative). That clojurescript compiles down to javascript in of itself suggests that javascript is just as powerful (if perhaps more verbose or awkward). There heuristic that a material can't be both tough and hard http://www.gemsociety.org/wow/jj5.htm I think somehting is similar applies in Programming Languages where something can't be both Powerful and {safe, fast, generally applicable or generally accessible}.

    1 · May 14, 2013

    • Rocky B.

      The second caveat is the power part. Power is good. It is just not something large organizations want everyone to *easily* have all the time without oversight. Think of a nuclear missle. It is powerful, and I would argue too powerful. I visited a decommissioned underground missle site in Puma Arizona. In order for that missle to go off, two people had to have two keys and turn them at the same time. The two-key aspect is not inherent in nuclear bomb technology. It is all totally artifically added on for safety. Likewise I imagine similar artifical saftey measures (and backup, backout procedures) are instituted when updated satellite software or OS upgrades.

      May 15, 2013

    • Dmitriy P.

      That's a good point about Power vs. Safety. I think Bob Martin addresses a similar argument in his "What killed Smalltalk could kill Ruby" video (https://www.youtube.co...­). tl;dw: Automated testing is one of the ways an organization can control the amount of safety it wants while using a powerful language.

      1 · May 15, 2013

  • Raymond de L.

    David gave a wonderful and humorous presentation on the sheer awesomeness of Lisp.

    May 15, 2013

  • Jim P.

    Lots of fun. Great examples.

    May 14, 2013

  • Jim P.

    Lots of fun. Really enjoyed the talk.

    May 14, 2013

  • John B.

    Enjoyable and informative.

    May 14, 2013

  • Jon D.

    Blast, I can't make it after all. And the title is so provocative...

    May 14, 2013

  • Martin B.

    Can't... have to attend another event. David: will you post your slides online? Will this be recorded?

    May 14, 2013

  • David B.

    Just realized that it is my wife's birthday, and for some reason, I think that she would inflict more physical damage than would Mr. Nolen, were I not to show up. So, enjoy the Lispesque discussions and hope to see you soon!

    May 14, 2013

  • James V. A.

    propaganda!

    May 14, 2013

  • Mike L.

    Dang. Was really looking forward to it.

    May 13, 2013

  • Scott M.

    Unfortunately I'll be out of the city on business.

    May 10, 2013

  • prasad r.

    Unfortunately other commitments....

    May 1, 2013

  • romy

    Whoa.. :( :( :( I didn't know these messages were sent to the public :( sorry... :( `head -n -5 ~/.bash_history > ~/.bash_history` && echo 'DAMAGE CONTROL DONE.'

    1 · April 28, 2013

    • Raymond P.

      All those open parentheses need to be closed :) :) I look forward to seeing yo all in two weeks :) :) :)

      April 30, 2013

    • Raymond P.

      All those open parentheses need to be closed :) :) I look forward to seeing you all in two weeks :) :) :)

      May 1, 2013

  • Raymond de L.

    Oh boy! I hope he won't make us program in assembly! :-)

    1 · April 23, 2013

    • romy

      Oh boy! Lacaze is going to be there! Eggs-citing! Eggs-exactly! Eggs-cellent!

      April 28, 2013

    • Mike S.

      Eggs-ceptional.

      April 30, 2013

  • Will G.

    Definitely too powerful for mere mortals like me.

    1 · April 26, 2013

    • romy

      I strongly echo this sentiment also!

      April 28, 2013

  • romy

    Wow! In fact, *OTHER* Hacker Schoolers (http://hackerschool.com) are going to be in attendance also!!!!!

    1 · April 28, 2013

  • romy

    oh dear!!! i am completely STOKED and on FIRE for this lecture!! in fact, i EVEN RECEIVED A DIRECT INVITATION FROM Sir Lacaze!!! He wrote "This is not optional, you MUST be there, you're attendance is both REQUIRED and EXPECTED!!!!!!!!" HENCEFORTH, I AM COMING!!!!

    2 · April 28, 2013

  • David B.

    John Barker: In three weeks you can.

    April 24, 2013

  • John B.

    Can't tell if serious...

    April 23, 2013

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