Common LISP, Second Edition : The Language

Common LISP, Second Edition : The Language

This is the Lisp programmers’ bible. If you need to know the official specification, every function defined in Common Lisp can be found in here somewhere. It is not an introduction to programming in Lisp Common Lisp: The Language only offers the language specification.


This book is intended to be a language specification rather than an implementation specification (although implementation notes are scattered throughout the text). 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. It is not necessarily implementationally minimal. While many features could be defined in terms of others by writing Lisp code, and indeed may be implemented that way, it was felt that these features should be conceptually primitive so that there might be agreement among all users as to their usage. (For example, bignums and rational numbers could be implemented as Lisp code given operations on fixnums. However, it is important to the conceptual integrity of the language that they be regarded by the user as primitive, and they are useful enough to warrant a standard definition.)

For the most part, this book defines a programming language, not a programming environment. A few interfaces are defined for invoking such standard programming tools as a compiler, an editor, a program trace facility, and a debugger, but very little is said about their nature or operation. It is expected that one or more extensive programming environments will be built using Common Lisp as a foundation, and will be documented separately.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Data Types
  • Scope and Extent
  • Type Specifiers
  • Program Structure
  • Predicates
  • Control Structure
  • Macros, Declarations
  • Symbols, Packages, Numbers, Characters, Sequences
  • Lists, Hash Tables, Arrays, Strings, Structures
  • The Evaluator
  • Streams, Input/Output
  • File System Interface
  • Errors, Miscellaneous Features
  • Loop, Pretty Printing
  • Common Lisp Object System, Conditions

Book Details

Author(s): Guy L. Steele
Publisher: Digital Press
Format(s): HTML
Link: Read online.

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