[TUHS] lisp challenge

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Sat Feb 17 09:41:47 AEST 2018

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 06:18:28PM -0500, Toby Thain wrote:
> On 2018-02-16 5:56 PM, Arthur Krewat wrote:
> > Has ANY language (except assembler) EVER outperformed C in a big way?
> > 
> > Give or take any optimizations that may be done by either?
> As Tim wisely pointed out, performance isn't a property of a language,
> but a program, so the idea that C is some kind of untouchable ultimate
> in speed makes no sense. 

Nobody claimed that.  I claimed, based on what I've been told by people
who programmed in lisp and some small personal experience, that lisp 
was and is perceived as a slow language, certainly slower than C.

Lisp fans hate that claim because they want everyone to program in Lisp,
or at least let them program in lisp.

I tipped my hat to the belief, I've never experience it myself but I've
heard it claimed, that a skilled lisp coder solves problems, especially
compiler like problems, in lisp faster than a skilled C programmer would.

I think that reality is that lispers like lisp because they can claim
they are "done" faster than they would if they had to do the same thing
in C (or other procedural) languages.

That is a HORRIBLE reason to like a language.  In my not at all
humble opinion.  If lisp were a language that was easy to read, for all
programmers not just people who love lisp, OK, maybe.  But it is not,
it's a miserable language to scan and understand.  Contrast it with C or
go or any of other procedural languages.  Any programmer can read C
and quickly understand what it is doing.  The same is not true of 

I strongly suspect that lisp people optimize for speed of writing 
whereas most experienced people optimize for the speed of reading.
It's write one, read many.

> Therefore nobody should be shocked that programs in other languages
> certainly _have_ beaten C for the same tasks. 

But not lisp.  Or at least, nobody wants to take up my grep challenge.


P.S.  For the record, I tried to like lisp.  I wrote lisp programs,
I tried.  Just like I tried to like emacs.  I'm apparently not smart
enough to join the hallowed grounds where the lispers live.  C/vi for
stupid me.

More information about the TUHS mailing list