Four slots were filled by G.J. Sussman (Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT) and a similar number by D.S. Wise (Department of Computer Science, Indiana University). Both belonged very much to the LISP subculture, neither of the two proved a single theorem, both showed too much and made such heavy use of anthropomorphic terminology that they were painful to listen to. Sussman’s transparencies were printed, but overloaded; Wise’s transparencies were handwritten, but very messy. Not used to Sussman’s lecturing style – is it called “teaching by example”? – I found him very tiring to listen to; he spoke very fast but told very little, since he used most of his words to go in detail through a number of almost identical examples. Wise struck me as rather old-fashioned: he seemed to talk about the implementation of LISP in very much the same way as people did in the early sixties. LISP’s syntax is so atrocious that I never understood its popularity. LISP’s possibility to introduce higher-order functions was mentioned several times in its defence, but now I come to think of it, that could be done in ALGOL60 as well. My current guess is that LISP’s popularity in the USA is related to FORTRAN’s shortcomings.

EWD, #798 (funny!)

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