Lisp @ Google: Killed in 2001 Reborn in 2008!

13 Nov

First Erann Gat tried it to no avail:

“I did try to introduce Lisp to Google. Having had some experience selling Lisp at JPL I got all my ducks in a row, had a cool demo going, showed it to all the other members of the ads team, and had them all convinced that this was a good idea. The only thing left was to get approval from the VP of engineering. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I’d like to talk to you about something…
Him: Let me guess – you want to use Smalltalk.
Me: Er, no…
Him: Lisp?
Me: Right.
Him: No way.

And that was the end of Lisp at Google.”

However this is not the end of the story and saga continues. Here comes a young and bright researcher Dr. Moshe Looks, with his fresh Ph.D (check out his publications). under his belt, tackling the topic of some complex semantic machine learning problems using plop which is coded… yes, to no surprise, in Common Lisp! ;-). You can read about plop in Google Research Blogs, too. Check it out:

plop is a Common Lisp framework for experimenting with meta-optimizing semantic evolutionary search (MOSES) and related approaches to learning with probability distributions over program spaces based on:

* reduction to normal form
* representation-building
* deme (sub-population) management
* probabilistic model-building (aka estimation-of-distribution algorithms)”


Posted by on November 13, 2008 in Lisp, Programlama


17 responses to “Lisp @ Google: Killed in 2001 Reborn in 2008!

  1. Some one

    November 13, 2008 at 14:59

    Modernized lisp: Clojure

    It’s amazingly inspiring. Try introducing it instead of the older lisps.

  2. John Watts

    November 13, 2008 at 15:41

    LOL, Go Google! Google Rocks!


  3. Eric

    November 13, 2008 at 16:16

    Off topic, I know, but this is my first visit. Where did you get the theme for this site? Is it freely available?

  4. Emre Sevinc

    November 13, 2008 at 16:21


    My current theme is a WordPress theme called Aspire v.1.1.4 by It is freely available, check it out:

  5. Emre Sevinc

    November 13, 2008 at 16:23

    Some one,

    Thanks for pointing at Clojure. I’ve heard it many times and I wonder how it compares to e.g. SBCL. I don’t know if that plop project @ Google R&D would make use of Clojure.

  6. Paul

    November 13, 2008 at 17:23

    The fact that Java is one of Google’s big four languages might be a significant factor in Clojure’s favor there. Clojure not only is JVM hosted (i.e. compiles to JVM bytecode), but is touted to be a “great Java library consumer” as well.

  7. jan

    November 13, 2008 at 17:53

    clojure is broken lisp. that is all.

  8. Some one

    November 13, 2008 at 17:55

    For many years, the lisps had all the language features and advantages that new languages only now start to offer. The three deterrents of lisp were: eccentric syntax, implementations which are incompatible on different platforms, lack of libraries.

    Clojure eliminates completely the latter two and adds so much more. I highly recommend it.

  9. Bilbo

    November 13, 2008 at 18:30

    Clojure would be fine if it wasn’t on the JVM. No tail-call optimization? Hilarious.

  10. Justin

    November 13, 2008 at 19:18

    Scheme guarantees tail call optimization, LISP doesn’t and at least Rich Hickey though enough about the problem to provide recur which gives you constant stack space recursion means he has at least thought about the problem and come up with a solution

    (defn fact [n accum] (if (zero? n) accum (recur (dec n) (* accum n))))

  11. Faried Nawaz

    November 13, 2008 at 19:22

    Bilbo, Common Lisp doesn’t have tail-call optimization either.

  12. nocker

    November 13, 2008 at 19:23

    Aspire is nice. Port it over to drupal immediately.

  13. Zak

    November 13, 2008 at 20:45

    Most CL implementations will do tail-call elimination if you do tell the compiler to optimize space.

    Clojure is not for everyone, but if you have an existing Java codebase or want easy concurrency, Clojure might be a good option.

  14. Emre Sevinc

    November 13, 2008 at 21:32

    One interesting fact: It seems that plop was implemented in C++ first. Now the programmer/researcher moved on to Common Lisp to reimplement it.

  15. greenfield

    November 14, 2008 at 00:08

    Okay, maybe this is shallow…but why would you want to sully Lisp by marrying it to Java? Ick.

  16. Vincent

    November 14, 2008 at 17:35

    greenfield: it boils down to this: Clojure now has more quality libraries it can use than any Common Lisp implementation and it gets a world class garbage collector and JIT compiler for free.

    I invite you to listen to the Boston Lisp presentation by Rich Hickey. It’s long (3 hours), but he explains everything about Clojure’s design to a Lisp crowd:

  17. mcmax

    September 9, 2009 at 16:58

    Hmmm…Google now have on progress kernel with Base Lisp Engine but it’s start large work for write competitive Interface and Work is Restart from Simbolics.


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