Programming Tutorials

Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Lisp

Lisp (derives from “LISt Processing”) is one of the oldest programming languages. It was invented in 1958, with the language being conceived by John McCarthy and is based on his paper “Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine”. Over the years, Lisp has evolved into a family of programming languages. The most commonly used general-purpose dialects are Common Lisp and Scheme. Other dialects include Franz Lisp, Interlisp, Portable Standard Lisp, XLISP and Zetalisp.

The majority of Lisp implementations offer a lot more than just a programming language. They include an entire environment such as debuggers, inspectors, tracing, and other tools to add the Lisp developer. Lisp is a practical, expression-oriented, interactive programming language which uses linked lists as one of its major data structures. A Lisp list is written with its elements separated by whitespace, and surrounded by parentheses. Lisp source code is itself comprised of lists.

The language has many unique features that make it excellent to study programming constructs and data structures. Many regard Lisp as an extremely natural language to code complex symbolic reasoning programs. Lisp is popular in the fields of artificial intelligence and symbolic algebra.

Here’s our recommended tutorials to learn Lisp. If you’re looking for free Lisp programming books, check here.

1. Common Lisp Quick Reference by Bert Burgemeister

Common Lisp Quick Reference is a free booklet with short descriptions of the thousand or so symbols defined in the ANSI standard. It comes with a comprehensive index.

Read the booklet

2. Google Common Lisp Style Guide by Google

This guide recommends formatting and stylistic choices designed to make your code easier for other people to understand.

Read the guide

3. Common Lisp Koans by Stanley Bileschi

Common Lisp Koans is a language learning exercise in the same vein as the Ruby koans, Python koans and others. It is a port of the prior koans with some modifications to highlight Lisp-specific features.

Read the tutorial

4. Lisp Quickstart by Sean Luke

The goal of this tutorial is not to teach you many of those powerful features: rather it’s to teach you just enough of Lisp that you can get up and coding quickly if you have a previous background in a procedural language such as C or Java.

Read the tutorial

5. Learning Lisp for CMPT 310 by Philip Fong

The tutorials cover basic LISP programming, advanced functional programming in LISP, data abstraction in LISP, and imperative programming in LISP.

Read the tutorials

6. Common Lisp Tutorial by Sadi Evren Seker

This tutorial covers symbols, numbers, conses, lists, functions, printing, forms and the top-level loop. It then moves on to look at special forms, binding, dynamic scoping, arrays, strings, structures, setf, booleans and conditionals, iteration, and more.

Read the tutorial

All tutorials in this series:

Free Programming Tutorials
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FortranThe first high-level language, using the first compiler
ScratchVisual programming language designed for 8-16 year-old children
LuaDesigned as an embeddable scripting language
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RustIdeal for systems, embedded, and other performance critical code
LispUnique features - excellent to study programming constructs
AdaALGOL-like programming language, extended from Pascal and others
HaskellStandardized, general-purpose, polymorphically, statically typed language
SchemeGeneral-purpose, functional, language descended from Lisp and Algol
PrologGeneral purpose, declarative, logic programming language
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ClojureDialect of the Lisp programming language
JuliaHigh-level, high-performance language for technical computing
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DartClient-optimized programming language for fast apps
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TypeScriptStrict syntactical superset of JavaScript, adding optional static typing
MarkdownPlain text formatting syntax designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write
PikeInterpreted, general-purpose, high-level, cross-platform, dynamic language
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Objective-CGeneral purpose language which is a superset of C
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AliceEducational language with an integrated development environment
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EiffelObject-oriented language
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