Next: , Up: Introduction   [Contents][Index] Purpose

Common Lisp is intended to meet these goals:


Common Lisp originated in an attempt to focus the work of several implementation groups, each of which was constructing successor implementations of MacLisp for different computers. Common Lisp serves as a common dialect to which each implementation makes any necessary extensions.


Common Lisp intentionally excludes features that cannot be implemented easily on a broad class of machines. Common Lisp is designed to make it easy to write programs that depend as little as possible on machine-specific characteristics, such as word length, while allowing some variety of implementation techniques.


The definition of Common Lisp avoids such anomalies by explicitly requiring the interpreter and compiler to impose identical semantics on correct programs so far as possible.


Common Lisp culls what experience has shown to be the most useful and understandable constructs from not only MacLisp but also Interlisp, other Lisp dialects, and other programming languages.


Common Lisp strives to be compatible with Lisp Machine Lisp, MacLisp, and Interlisp, roughly in that order.


Common Lisp has a number of features designed to facilitate the production of high-quality compiled code in those implementations whose developers care to invest effort in an optimizing compiler.


Common Lisp is a descendant of MacLisp, which has traditionally placed emphasis on providing system-building tools. It is expected such packages will be built on top of the Common Lisp core.


It is intended that Common Lisp will change only slowly and with due deliberation.

Common Lisp differs from Standard Lisp primarily in incorporating more features, including a richer and more complicated set of data types and more complex control structures.

This book is intended to be a language specification rather than an implementation specification. It defines a set of standard language concepts and constructs that may be used for communication of data structures and algorithms in the Common Lisp dialect. This set of concepts and constructs is sometimes referred to as the “core Common Lisp language” because it contains conceptually necessary or important features.

For the most part, this book defines a programming language, not a programming environment.

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