TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Functions in Lisp
Volume Number:1
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Lisp Listener

"Functions in Lisp"

By Andy Cohen, Human Factors Engineering, Hughes Aircraft, MacTutor Contributing Editor

Defining Procedures

As you may recall from the first installment of the Lisp Listener, a procedure is a description of an action or computation. A primitive is a predefined or "builtin" procedure (e.g. "+"). As in Forth, Lisp can have procedures which are defined by the programmer. DEFUN, from DEfine FUNction, is used for this purpose. The syntax for DEFUN in Experlisp is as follows:

(DEFUN FunctionName (symbols) 
          (All sorts of computations which may or may Not use the values 
represented by  the symbols))

The function name is exactly that. Whenever the name is used the defined procedure associated with that function name is performed. The symbols are values which may or may not be required by the procedures within the defined function. If required, the values must follow the function name. When given, these values are assigned to the symbol. This is similar to the way values are assigned to a symbol when using SETQ. It is easier to see how DEFUN works when observed within an example:

;(DEFUN Reciprocal (n)
 (/ 1 n))
;(Reciprocal 5)
;(Reciprocal 2384)

The word "Reciprocal" is the function name and the numbers following are the values for which the reciprocal (1/n) are found. After the list containing DEFUN is entered and the carriage return is pressed the function and it's title are assigned a location in memory. The function name is then printed in the Listener window.

;(DEFUN Square (x)
 (* x x))
;(Square 5)

;(DEFUN Cubed (y)
 (* y (* y y))
;(Cubed 5)

  (/ (+ W X Y Z) 4)) 
;(Average 2 3 4 5)

You might recognize "Average" from last month's Lisp Listener. One might imagine using defined functions inside other defined functions. If it was possible to have variables which have the same values in each procedure, then the version of Lisp used has what is called dynamic scoping. In this context the values of the variable are determined by the Lisp environment which is resident when the procedure is called. Experlisp, however, is lexically scoped. That means that variable values are local to each procedure. Two defined procedures can use the same labels for variables, but the values will not be considered as the same. Each variable is defined locally. This is in accordance to the Common Lisp standard. Lexical scoping makes it easier to debug someone elses'' programs. If you don't know what I mean yet, don't worry. This subject will come up again in more detail later.


If no values are required by the defined function then "nil" or an empty list must follow the function name.

;(DEFUN Line ()
 (Forward 50))

The empty list obviously contains no atoms (I'll describe the above function, "Line" later in the section on bunnies). It is synonymous to the special term nil, which is considered by Lisp as the opposite of T or True. Nil is used in many other contexts.

;(cddr '( one two)) 

In the above, the first cdr returns "two". The second cdr returns nothing, hence "nil". The values of true and false are returned by procedures called predicates. While nil represents a false condition, anything other then nil, including "T", is generally considered true. Please note that I used lowercase letters in the above. ExperLisp recognizes both upper and lowercase. I've been using uppercase only to make it clear within the text when I'm referring to Lisp

EQUAL is a predicate which checks the equality of two arguments. Note the arguments can be integers or symbols. If the two arguments are equal then "T" is returned. If they are not equal then "nil" is returned.

;(EQUAL try try)

;(EQUAL 6732837 6732837)

;(EQUAL 6732837 6732833)

;(EQUAL First Second)

ATOM checks to see if it's argument is a list or an atom. Remember, the single quote is used to indicate that what follows is a not evaluated as in the case of a list. Symbols are evaluated.

;(ATOM 'thing)

;(ATOM thing)

;(ATOM (A B C D))

In the first of the above 'thing is an atom due to the single quote. In the second, thing is considered a symbol. A symbol is evaluated and contains a value or values as a list. In the third, (A B C D) is obviously a list.

LISTP checks if it's argument is a list.

;(LISTP '( 23 45 65 12 1))

;(SETQ babble '(wd ihc wi kw))
;(LISTP babble)
;(LISTP 'babble)

;(LISTP 'thing)

One interesting observation is that nil is both an atom and a list, ()=nil. Therefore ATOM and LISTP both return true for nil.

;(ATOM ())

;(LISTP ())

When one needs to know if a list is empty, NULL does the job.

;(NULL good)

;(NULL (X Y Z))

;(NULL ())

;(NULL nil)

NUMBERP checks if the argument that follows is or represents a number rather than a string.

;(NUMBERP 56.887)

;(NUMBERP fifty-six)

;(SETQ fifty-six '(56))
;(NUMBERP fifty-six)

Now for a real slick one. MEMBER tests whether or not an argument is a part of a list. An easy demonstration follows:

;(MEMBER 'bananas (apples pears  bananas))
;(apples pears bananas)
;(MEMBER 'grapes (apples pears bananas))

When the argument is a member, then the contents of the list are given. If not then nil is returned. MEMBER also checks symbols of lists.

;(SETQ fruit '(apples grapes pears))
;(MEMBER 'grapes fruit)
; (apples grapes pears)
;(MEMBER 'banana   fruit)

EVENP tests to see if an integer is even and MINUSP checks if an integer is negative. ODDP and PLUSP are not needed since they are simply opposite of the first two.

;(EVENP 2)

;(EVENP (- 806 35))

;(MINUSP 25)

;(MINUSP (-34 86))

In the second and fourth examples above the lists contained within are calculated prior to MEMBERP evaluation. (806-35=771 & 34-86=-52. There's a few more simple predicates such as NOT, <, >, and ZEROP. I'll discuss them along with conditionals next month. Now for something completely different.

Bunny Graphics

If you've ever learned Logo, the concept of Bunny graphics should sound familiar. As mentioned last month, the Bunny is Expertelligence's version of the Turtle. All one needs to do in order to make a Bunny move is to tell it to. FORWARD X initially moves the Bunny upwards on the screen for 'X' display pixels. A negative number initially moves it down. When one enters the following in the Listener window,


the default graphics window (I'll discuss windows in more detail very soon in future installments) is then opened and the following is drawn:

RIGHT X aims the front of the line to the right by X degrees. If one then uses forward again the line moves in a different direction. For example:

 ;((RIGHT 50) (FORWARD 50))

or better yet

;(DEFUN Line 
 (RIGHT 50) (FORWARD 50))

After a line is moved, the end of the line remains where it was. If one made the Bunny move again the beginning of the new line would begin where the old left off. The original starting point is the graphics window default home position. This position is in the center of each graphics window when the window is first created. In order to return the Bunny to the original starting point one must use HOME.


The following produces a much neater triangle:

(DEFUN Triangle ()
         (Penup) (Left 45)
         (Forward 10) (Pendown)
        (Right 90) (Forward 25)
        (Right 90) (Forward 50)
        (Right 135) (Forward 71)
       (Right 135) (Forward 25))

After the above is typed into the edit buffer the "Compile All" selection should be chosen from the Menu Bar. The source code in the Edit Buffer quickly inverts to white letters on a black background as if the whole file was selected for a moment. The function name "Triangle is then printed in the Listener window. If the user enters the following in the Listener Window a different triangle is drawn in the default Graphics Window:


If you Look at the in Triangle you will see a couple more Bunny commands. LEFT does the same as RIGHT but in the opposite direction. PENUP raises the Bunny's pen so that when the Bunny moves no lines are drawn. PENDOWN returns the Bunny to the drawing orientation. The first line of code in "Triangle" puts the Bunny off the Home position so that the drawn triangle will be centered on the screen. As mentioned earlier, the orientation of the bunny remains. The last line of code in "Triangle left the Bunny aimed at about 1:00 rather than the initial position, 12:00. If we were to make "Triangle" execute ten times without eliminating the Graphics Window the following would result:

In getting "Triangle" to execute recompilation of the code in the edit buffer is not necessary. To get the above one can type the function name into a list ten times within the Listener window. The following however, is easier:

;(Dotimes (a 10) (Triangle))

DOTIMES is very similar to the FOR...NEXT looping routine in BASIC. I'll discuss it next month in a description of iteration and recursion in ExperLisp.

If we wanted to use a three dimensional bunny then the following would be added before "Triangle" in the Edit Buffer window:

(SETQ curbun (new3dbun))
(Pitch 30) (Yaw 45) (Roll 50)

Something like the following is drawn after the source code is recompiled and "(Triangle)" is entered into the Listener Window:

CURBUN is a special symbol in ExperLisp which always refers to the Bunny cursor. NEW3DBUN is a special term which always changes CURBUN. The default Bunny is 2 dimensional. If one wanted the Spherical Bunny then the following would be entered into the beginning of the first version of "Triangle":

(SETQ curbun (newspbun))

This would then produce what follows:

In order to have the above drawn in a different orientation, different Bunny direction would be required. Windows, two and three dimensional Bunny graphics and toolbox graphics use the same X,Y coordinate system. Home is 0,0. Dual negative coordinates are situated towards the upper left corner. Dual positive coordinates are situated towards the lower right corner. The range is +32767 to -32768 for each dimension. In ExperLisp one can sometimes use the third dimension, as in the 3D sample of "Triangle". Negative Z values are behind Home, while positive Z values are in front. The following illustrates the coordinate system in ExperLisp:

Compiler Information

The ExperLisp disk contains three essential files; Compiler, LispENV and Experlisp. Compiler is not actually the entire Lisp compiler. It contains the information needed in generating all of the higher level Lisp syntactics, such as the Bunny graphics. LispENV stands for Lisp Environment and it is simply a duplication of Compile. LispENV contains information on how the Macintosh memory was organized by the programmer and ExperLisp during the previous session. It also contains information on the system configuration such as the number of disk drives, the amount of memory, etc. Sometimes LispENV can be messed up (i.e. by changing the variable table). When this happens one might not be able to start ExperLisp. In this case LispENV should be removed from the disk. Afterward, when ExperLisp is opened, Compiler generates a new LispENV. Compiler is not needed on the disk unless the LispENV is ruined. Deleting it will provide 100K more space on the disk. Before eliminating it from the disk however, be sure you have a backup as it is an essential file. The Experlisp file contains the assembly language routines which represent the lower level Lisp routines like CAR and CDR. It also allows access to the Macintosh toolbox routines and contains the Listener Window. One opens the Experlisp file in starting a programming session with ExperLisp. Another file on the disk is automatically loaded and activated when Experlisp is booted. It is labeled ªlispinit. The contents of this file can be added to so that when one boots up ExperLisp a program can be automatically executed. It can also do automatic configurations. However the contents of ªlispinit should not be changed since it configures the Macintosh memory for Exper- Lisp.

Next month I'll discuss a few more predicate procedures. I also hope to start discussing iteration, recursion and conditionals. If there is enough room left over I might also begin discussing how to access the toolbox graphics.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Hopper Disassembler 4.2.19- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Duet - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version Read more
Monosnap 3.4.0 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap lets you capture screenshots, share files, and record video and .gifs! Capture Capture full screen, just part of the screen, or a selected window Make your crop area pixel perfect with our... Read more
Tweetbot 2.5.3 - Popular Twitter client.
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Default Folder X 5.1.6 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Evernote 6.12.3 - Create searchable note...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
Geekbench 4.1.2 - Measure processor and...
Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand,... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 5.0.2 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.305 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
calibre 3.8.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more

The best new games we played this week -...
It's pretty much been one big release after another. We were privy to a bunch of surprises this week, with a lot of games we'd been waiting for quite some time dropping unexpectedly. We hope you're free this weekend, because there is a lot for... | Read more »
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars guide - how to...
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars is an excellent new RTS turned card battler out now on iOS and Android. Lovers of strategy will get a lot of enjoyment out of Stormbound's chess-like mechanics, and it's cardbased units are perfect for anyone who loves the... | Read more »
The best AR apps and games on iOS right...
iOS 11 has officially launched, and with it comes Apple's ARKit, a helpful framework that makes it easier than ever for developers to create mobile AR experiences. To celebrate the occassion, we're featuring some of the best AR apps and games on... | Read more »
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of...
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice 1.00.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.00.00 (iTunes) Description: ************************************************※IMPORTANT※・Please read the “When... | Read more »
Kpressor (Utilities)
Kpressor 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The ultimate ZIP compression application for iPhone and iPad. - Full integration of iOS 11 with support for multitasking.-... | Read more »
Find out how you can save £35 and win a...
Nothing raises excitement like a good competition, and we’re thrilled to announce our latest contest. We’ll be sending one lucky reader and a friend to the Summoners War World Arena Championship at Le Comedia in Paris on October 7th. It’s the... | Read more »
Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story...
Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Another Lost Phone is a game about exploring the social life of a young woman whose phone you have just... | Read more »
The Witness (Games)
The Witness 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You wake up, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that will challenge and surprise you. You don't remember who you are, and... | Read more »
Egg, Inc. guide - how to build your gold...
Egg, Inc.'s been around for some time now, but don't you believe for one second that this quirky clicker game has gone out of style. The game keeps popping up on Reddit and other community forums thanks to the outlandish gameplay (plus, the... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Good news, everyone! Your favorite day of the week has arrived at last -- it's discount roundup day! This fine Wednesday evening we're gathering up the hottest deals on the App Store. We've got action platformers, we've got puzzle games, we've got... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Looking for a 2017 12″ Retina MacBook? Save $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple Offering Up To $455 Credit Toward iPhon...
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are now available at the Apple Store, and you can receive up to $375 credit toward a new iPhone purchase when you trade in your eligible smartphone. Photo Courtesy Apple Just... Read more
AnyTrans Offers iOS Users Three Ways For Movi...
iMobie Inc. today announceed AnyTrans v6.0.1, which now can help iOS users move all data to iPhone 8/8 Plus seamlessly. The software is available both on Mac and Windows and fully able to move all... Read more
Snag a 13-inch 2.3GHz MacBook Pro for $100 of...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ 2.3GHz MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
Verizon offers new iPhone 8 for $100-$300 off...
Verizon is offering the new iPhone 8 for up to $300 off MSRP with an eligible trade-in: • $300 off: iPhone 6S/6S Plus/7/7 Plus, Google Pixel XL, LG G6, Moto Z2 Force, Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge/S8/S8... Read more
Apple Refurbished 2017 13-inch MacBook Pros a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and available for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
OWC USB-C Travel Dock with 5 Ports Connectivi...
OWC have announced the new OWC USB-C Travel Dock, the latest addition to their line of connectivity solutions. The USB-C Travel Dock lets you connect its integrated USB-C cable to a Mac or PC laptop... Read more
Pelican Products, Inc. Unveils Cases For All...
Pelican Products, Inc. has announced the launch of its full line of cases including Voyager, Adventurer, Protector, Ambassador, Interceptor (for the Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus backwards compatible... Read more
$100 off new 2017 13-inch MacBook Airs
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Airs on sale today for $100 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $899, $100 off... Read more
Apple restocks Certified Refurbished 13-inch...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $719 and 2016 models available starting at $809. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more

Jobs Board

Instructional Designer, *Apple* Product Doc...
Job Summary The Apple Product Documentation team is looking for an instructional designer or a video editor to write user documentation for its professional video Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Development Operations and Site Reliability E...
Development Operations and Site Reliability Engineer, Apple Payment Gateway Job Number: 57572631 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jul. 27, 2017 Read more
Specialist - Retail Customer Services and Sal...
The position listed below is not with Tennessee Interviews but with Apple , Inc. Tennessee Interviews is a private organization that works in collaboration with Read more
Specialist - Retail Customer Services and Sal...
The position listed below is not with South Carolina Interviews but with Apple , Inc. South Carolina Interviews is a private organization that works in collaboration Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.