Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet. Member, ←Hotline Webring→.

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Growing a Language

Published 27 Sep 2013. Tags: computer-science, video.

Guy Steele is one of the Big Guys in language design. He co-authored the Lambda Papers, wrote Common Lisp: The Language, and to a greater or lesser extent helped influence the development of Scheme, C, Fortran, Common Lisp, and Fortress.

He’s a pretty cool dude, is what I’m saying.

Anyhoo, Guy Steele also gave an extraordinary talk at OOPSLA 1998, entitled “Growing a Language.” The content of the talk (how to design an extensible language) is great, but the structure and delivery is even better. Just watch the first ten minutes or so, until he’s revealed what it is that he’s doing. I suspect you’ll want to watch the rest.

You can also read the full text of the talk as a pdf, but that spoils it a bit.