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  • By Johan Persson
    May 14, 2011
    Scheme 9 from Empty Space, A Guide to Implementing Scheme in C is a thorough guide of the internals of the scheme system with the same name. It provides a detailed account of every aspect of a non-trivial interpreter, from memory management, through the implementation of primitives, all the way up to the user-level forms and functions. I was very delighted to see the discussions about practical matters in the implementation. One such discussion is the section about memory management, where a pointer reversal algorithm is laid out in beautiful detail. This is very refreshing since many other smaller scheme systems usually implement a naïve mark-and-sweep collector and call it a day without any further motivation. The implementation is also very faithful to the lisp tradition of building things bottom-up, which is evident in the book by the fact that you get a good mental picture from the start, despite the rather mechanical walk through of the source. (Which certainly isn't bad:... More > this is a documentary after all, and not a cookbook.) I'd say that this book is for the reader with some previous experience in writing compilers and/or interpreters. For the absolute beginner, the material may come across as dry and bewildering since it presents all concepts in the same order as they appear in the source. For the programming language buff, it is a interesting behind-the-scenes tour of a real-world scheme system. All in all, it is a good read. Many scheme implementations have been written over the years, but very few have a thorough guide of such detail as this book.< Less
  • By Chris Wellons
    May 6, 2011
    This is a very educational book for anyone interested in becoming more familiar with C or Scheme programming, language implementations, or just learning the in-and-outs of a moderately-sized code base. Holm really knows what he's doing and, for the most part, demonstrates good programming practices throughout the book. It's not for everyone: you will need familiarity with C and Lisp before getting started. The book drives forward without taking a breath, so you may need to pause here and there to think through the material you've just read. I found that there are two ways to read the book, and I was reading one way followed by the other. First is to read and understand the non-code... More > descriptions, mostly skimming over the code sections. Then once you've got a good idea of the big picture, go back to the beginning (or just to the most interesting parts first) and study the code itself carefully. A few times I was left with questions that the book hadn't answered, possibly... More > because the answers were considered outside the scope of the book. Also, I didn't realize it at first, but the diagrams are not always to scale. Sometimes two identically-sized slots of memory are drawn as different sizes. I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone who is genuinely interested in mastering the craft of software development. While you may not ever implement your own programming language, understanding what's going on below the abstraction can go a long way. The only reason I might not recommend the book was if I knew the person was going to write their own toy Scheme interpreter soon. The book may spoil some of the experience if read beforehand, taking away some of the enlightening exploration. But it's fun to compare notes afterward.< Less
  • By mario.deilmann
    Apr 14, 2011
    Hi, I think Scheme 9 from Empty Space is quite unique as a scheme book as it took the very practical approach to guide the reader thoroughly through a C implementation of a very complete Scheme interpreter (almost R4RS). The code is very easy to understand and readable and it should not be too complicated to follow the implementation. It's not too theoretical like Lisp in small pieces and really fills a gap in the area of books about scheme. The S9FES interpreter is not the fastest one but the one you almost fully understand. Everyone who is interesting in writing his own scheme interpreter or is eager to see how a scheme interpreter works internally should get this book. The only thing I would like to see in a future version is a more detailed discussion why various concepts were used. -- Mario

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Product Details

October 8, 2010
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.65 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall
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