What’s Lisp Without Lists?!

[Part 6 of the FScheme series]

Once again, I must plug Bill Hails’ book


How could we even be pretending this is Lisp when we have yet to add lists! We need to add the standard ‘cons’, ‘car’, and ‘cdr’ for constructing and destructing list structure and we’ll go ahead and add the nice-to-have ‘list’ (to construct lists from a set of arguments without an ugly chain of ‘cons’). Because of the isomorphism between Scheme and F# lists, these are embarrassingly simple to implement:

and Cons = function [h; List(t)] -> List(h :: t) | _ -> failwith "Malformed 'cons'."
and Car = function [List(h :: _)] -> h | _ -> failwith "Malformed 'car'."
and Cdr = function [List(_ :: t)] -> List(t) | _ -> failwith "Malformed 'cdr'."
and Lst args = List(args)

It can’t get much easier than that. Cons takes an expression and a list and returns a new list with the expression prepended. Car returns the head of a list. Cdr returns the tail. Lst just makes a list. Add them to the environment as usual and we’re done:

and environment =
    extend [] [
        "*", ref (Function(Multiply))
        "-", ref (Function(Subtract))
        "if", ref (Special(If))
        "let", ref (Special(Let))
        "letrec", ref (Special(LetRec))
        "let*", ref (Special(LetStar))
        "lambda", ref (Special(Lambda))
        "cons", ref (Function(Cons))
        "car", ref (Function(Car))
        "cdr", ref (Function(Cdr))
        "list", ref (Function(Lst))]

Improper Lists

I decided not to implement “improper lists” and the dotted-pair notation. This is where we would allow pairs to contain something other than a list as their cdr and allow a syntax like (1 2 . 3) to construct such things. I don’t believe that lacking this feature limits our expressiveness as far as data structures at all. You can still build trees and all, no problem. It would complicate things quite a bit and with little benefit. Maybe we’ll revisit this later…


    case "(list 1 2 3)" "(1 2 3)" // list
    case "(car (list 1 2 3))" "1" // car
    case "(cdr (list 1 2 3))" "(2 3)" // cdr
    case "(cons 1 (list 2 3))" "(1 2 3)" // cons
    case "(cons 1 (cons 2 (cons 3 ())))" "(1 2 3)" // cons x3 
    case "(let ((a 1) (b 2) (c 3)) (list a b c))" "(1 2 3)" // list
    case "(let ((a (list 1 2 3))) (car a))" "1" // car
    case "(let ((a (list 1 2 3))) (cdr a))" "(2 3)" // cdr



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