[TUHS] lisp challenge

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Sat Feb 17 08:28:35 AEST 2018

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 02:05:09PM -0800, Bakul Shah wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Feb 2018 13:01:14 -0800 Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> Larry McVoy writes:
> > So people have called me on the claim that lisp is not fast.  Here's a 
> > rebuttal.
> > 
> > Please write a clone of GNU grep in lisp to demonstrate that the claim
> > that lisp is slower that C is false.
> > 
> > Best of luck and I'll be super impressed if you can get even remotely
> > close without dropping into C or assembler.  If you do get close, I 
> > will with draw my claim, stand corrected, point future "lisp is slow"
> > people at the lisp-grep, and buy you dinner and/or drinks.
> If you want to do more of an apples to apples comparison, you
> should pick a brand new problem not known to be solved in
> either C or Lisp so that both sides start at the same point!

Nope.  It's my challenge and it stands as I stated it.  People said
I was wrong when I said Lisp was perceived as slow.  I picked a 
perfectly reasonable example of a common problem (text processing),
gave a benchmark, gave a pointer to how the C program was made fast,
and asked for a lisp program that even comes close.

If that can't be done, then the claim that lisp is slow still stands.

When people said I was "putting inaccuracies into the archives" or
"perpetuating a myth" I wondered if I was wrong.  Nobody said "well,
yes, C is faster for systems stuff or this or that, but lisp is faster
in this domain".  They said that the claim that lisp is slow is not

Just saying that lisp is not slow is not the same as demonstrating it.

I'm more than willing to be wrong, that's how I learn.  But the proof
here is to show up with a pure lisp grep that is fast as the C version.
I'm no lisp expert, not by any stretch, but I've never seen a lisp
program that out performed a well written C program.

The point was that lisp was/is perceived as a slow language.  Several
people said that's false, I'm just asking for them to demonstrate that
it is false by writing grep in lisp.  Who knows?  Maybe it can be done.

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