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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: lisp portability

From: C Y
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: lisp portability
Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 14:44:28 -0700 (PDT)

--- Gabriel Dos Reis <address@hidden> wrote:
> Here is what I'm suggesting:
>   * Abandon the idea that Axiom should be rewritten completely in
>     Lisp. That is both pointless, resource waste.

As far as I know, the only parts of Axiom anyone was advocating doing
this for were up to and including the SPAD compiler - after that point,
Algebra would be done in SPAD (or Aldor, depending on how things work
out.)  I assume this is what you are referring to?

>   * Write as little as possible in Lisp.  Just the bare minimum 
>     necessary to boot Boot.

You mean, write a bootstrap only Boot in Lisp, and then use that to
handle the "full" Boot?

>   * Write the code of the compiler in Boot (when we cannot write it
> in Spad). 
>   * Improve Boot -- I already have enough to get rid of most of
>     Lisp forms.
>     In particular, pay attention to resist the temptation of letting 
>     Lisp variabilities enshrine into the Boot interface.
>     Rely on the mechanimsation at the Boot translator level to
>     achieve things that are painful to do directly at the bar Lisp
>     level.

Um - "enshrining Lisp variabilities" - you mean basing any part of Boot
on anything that may vary between Lisp implementations?

>   * For Axiom runtime system: Think of Lisp as just on assembly
>     language Axiom can be compile to.  Define a Virtual Machine for
>     Axiom (yes, I klnow of FOAM).  In particular, have the algebra
>     files depend only on the Axiom Virtual Machine instruction set.

I think that is a separate issue from Lisp, and one I think is a good
idea - particularly from a theoretical standpoint.  That way, a formal
verification in Axiom can take place in terms of the Axiom Virtual
Machine, and it is up to the implementation to correctly implement the
Virtual Machine behavior.

I know I'm not really qualified to have an opinion on this issue, but I
personally like working in the Lisp language and would like to continue
with it.  I realize this is an opposing opinion (or at least
preference) to some very smart people on the list, but if we have a
proper Axiom Virtual Machine definition it should be a moot point
anyway - we can have multiple Virtual Machines in the same way Java
code can run on different implementations of the JVM.

I concede the point that making one or more Lisp distributions work
"ideally" may be, from a feature standpoint, redundant work.  For
myself, however, I would like to be able to work in Lisp and create a
completely literate toolchain from the ground up.  Since this doesn't
exist today in any form, Lisp is as good a starting point as any other
and the language has (to me at least) a lot of very nice points.  This
goal is at right angles to what most people are probably looking for in
the Axiom system, so I can accept that it may never be a "main goal" of
the project.

This may be one of the root reasons the project appears "unfocused" to
many people, as fundamental differences like this will lead to efforts
in different directions.  With any luck, the core of the system (the
Algebra knowledge) will be independent of all of this.

Regardless, I look forward to a fully functional Axiom platform that
will let the mathematical people work in comfort - however it is


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