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;;; -*- mode:newlisp; coding:utf-8 -*-
*For Mac OS X, GNU Linux, Unix and Win32*
Users Manual and Reference v.10.1.0 rev 4
Copyright © 2009 Lutz Mueller
<>. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License,
Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software
Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts,
and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the
section entitled GNU Free Documentation License <#GNUFDL>.
The accompanying software is protected by the GNU General Public License
<#GNUGPL> V.3, June 2007.
newLISP is a registered trademark of Lutz Mueller.
Users Manual <#users_manual>
1. Introduction <#introduction>
2. Deprecated functions and future changes <#deprecated>
3. Command line options <#options>
* Command line help summary <#cmd_help>
* Specifying files as URLs <#url_files>
* No loading of init.lsp <#no_init>
* Stack size <#stack_size>
* Maximum memory usage <#max_mem>
* Direct execution mode <#direct_exec>
* Logging I/O <#logging>
* Specifying the working directory <#working_dir>
* newLISP as a TCP/IP server <#tcpip_server>
* TCP/IP daemon mode <#daemon>
* Suppressing the prompt and HTTP processing <#prompt>
* Forcing prompts in pipe I/O mode <#forcing_prompt>
* HTTP only server mode <#http_mode>
* Local domain Unix socket server <#local_domain_server>
* inetd daemon mode <#inetd_daemon>
4. Startup, directories, environment <#startup>
* Environment variable NEWLISPDIR <#environment>
* The initialization file init.lsp <#initialization>
* Directories on Linux, BSD, Mac OS X <#directories_unix>
* Directories on Win32 <#directories_win32>
5. Shared library module for Unix <#shared-lib>
6. DLL module for Win32 versions <#dll>
7. Evaluating newLISP expressions <#expressions>
* Integer, floating point data and operators <#int_float>
* Evaluation rules and data types <#eval_rules>
8. Lambda expressions in newLISP <#lambda_expressions>
9. nil, true, cons and () in newLISP <#nil_and_true>
10. Arrays <#arrays>
11. Indexing elements of strings, lists and arrays <#indexing>
* Implicit indexing for nth <#implicit_indexing>
* Implicit indexing and the default function <#implicit_default>
* Implicit indexing for rest and slice <#implicit_rest_slice>
* Modify references in lists, arrays and strings
12. Destructive versus non-destructive functions <#destructive>
* Make a destructive function non-destructive
13. Dynamic and lexical scoping <#scoping>
14. Early return from functions, loops, blocks <#return>
* Using catch and throw <#flow_catch_throw>
* Using and and or <#flow_and_or>
15. Contexts <#contexts>
* Symbol creation in contexts <#context_rules>
* Creating contexts <#scope_context>
* Global scope <#scope_global>
* Symbol protection <#protection>
* Overwriting global symbols and built-ins <#overwrite>
* Variables holding contexts <#context_vars>
* Sequence of creating contexts <#sequence_creating>
* Contexts as programming modules <#context_modules>
* Contexts as data containers <#context_data>
* Loading and declaring contexts <#loading_contexts>
* Serializing context objects <#serializing>
16. The context default functor <#default_function>
* Functions with memory <#func_memory>
* Hash functions and dictionaries <#hash>
* Passing data by reference <#pass_big>
17. Functional object-oriented programming in newLISP <#foop>
* FOOP classes and constructors <#newlisp_classes>
* Objects <#newlisp_objects>
* The colon : operator and polymorphism <#colon_operator>
18. Concurrent processing and distributed computing <#multi_processing>
* The Cilk API <#cilk>
* Distributed network computing <#distributed>
19. XML, SXML and XML-RPC <#XML>
20. Customization, localization and UTF-8 <#internationalization>
* Customizing function names <#naming>
* Switching the locale <#switching>
* Decimal point and decimal comma <#decimal_point>
* Unicode and UTF-8 encoding <#unicode_utf8>
* Functions working on UTF-8 characters <#utf8_capable>
21. Commas in parameter lists <#commas>
22. Linking newLISP source and executable <#linking>
Function Reference <#function_ref>
1. Syntax of symbol variables and numbers <#symbol_names>
2. Data types and names in the reference <#type_ids>
3. Functions in groups <#functions>
* List processing, flow control, and integer arithmetic <#list_processing>
* String and conversion functions <#string_operators>
* Floating point math and special functions <#floating_point>
* Matrix functions <#matrices>
* Array functions <#array-funcs>
* Bit operators <#bit_operators>
* Predicates <#predicates>
* Time and date functions <#timedate>
* Simulation and modeling functions <#montecarlo>
* Pattern matching <#pattern>
* Financial math functions <#financial>
* File and I/O operations <#input_output>
* Processes and the Cilk API <#processes>
* File and directory management <#directory_management>
* HTTP networking API <#http_api>
* Socket TCP/IP and UDP network API <#socket_tcpip>
* Reflection and customization <#reflection>
* System functions <#system_functions>
* Importing libraries <#importing_libraries>
* newLISP internals API <#internals>
4. Functions in alphabetical order <#functions_alphabetical>
! <newlisp_manual.html#shell>
+-*/% <newlisp_manual.html#arithmetic>
Ab <newlisp_manual.html#abort>
Ap <newlisp_manual.html#append>
As <newlisp_manual.html#asin>
Ba <newlisp_manual.html#base64-dec>
Ca <newlisp_manual.html#callback>
Cl <newlisp_manual.html#clean>
Co <newlisp_manual.html#command-event>
Cu <newlisp_manual.html#current-line>
De <newlisp_manual.html#dec>
Di <newlisp_manual.html#difference>
Do <newlisp_manual.html#do-until>
En <newlisp_manual.html#encrypt>
Ex <newlisp_manual.html#exec>
Fi <newlisp_manual.html#file-info>
Fl <newlisp_manual.html#flat>
Ga <newlisp_manual.html#gammaln>
Gl <newlisp_manual.html#global>
In <newlisp_manual.html#inc>
La <newlisp_manual.html#lambdap>
Li <newlisp_manual.html#listp>
Ma <newlisp_manual.html#macrop>
Mu <newlisp_manual.html#mul>
Net <newlisp_manual.html#net-accept>
New <newlisp_manual.html#new>
Nt <newlisp_manual.html#nth>
Pa <newlisp_manual.html#pack>
Pr <newlisp_manual.html#pretty-print>
Ra <newlisp_manual.html#randomize>
Rea <newlisp_manual.html#read-buffer>
Reg <newlisp_manual.html#regex>
Sea <newlisp_manual.html#search>
Seq <newlisp_manual.html#sequence>
Sl <newlisp_manual.html#sleep>
St <newlisp_manual.html#starts-with>
Sy <newlisp_manual.html#sync>
Ti <newlisp_manual.html#time-of-day>
Tr <newlisp_manual.html#truep>
Ut <newlisp_manual.html#utf8>
Wr <newlisp_manual.html#write-file>
Appendix <#appendix>
* Error Codes <#error_codes>
* System Symbols <#system_symbols>
* GNU Free Documentation License <#GNUFDL>
* GNU General Public License <#GNUGPL>
( ∂ )
newLISP Users Manual
1. Introduction
newLISP focuses on the core components of Lisp: /lists/, /symbols/, and
/lambda expressions/. To these, newLISP adds /arrays/, /implicit
indexing/ on lists and arrays, and /dynamic/ and /lexical scoping/.
Lexical scoping is implemented using separate namespaces called /contexts/.
The result is an easier-to-learn Lisp that is even smaller than most
Scheme implementations, but which still has about 350 built-in
functions. Approximately 200k in size, newLISP is built for high
portability using only the most common Unix system C-libraries. It loads
quickly and has a small memory footprint. newLISP is as fast or faster
than other popular scripting languages and uses very few resources.
newLISP is dynamically scoped inside lexically separated contexts
(namespaces). Contexts can be used to create isolated protected
expansion packages, functions with memory and to write /object-oriented/
Both built-in and user-defined functions, along with variables, share
the same namespace and are manipulated by the same functions. Lambda
expressions and user-defined functions can be handled like any other
list expression.
Contexts (namespaces) in newLISP facilitate the development of larger
applications comprising independently developed modules with their own
separate namespaces. They can be copied, dynamically assigned to
variables, and passed by reference to functions as arguments. In this
way, contexts can serve as dynamically created objects that package
symbols and methods. Lexical separation of namespaces also enables the
definition of statically scoped functions.
newLISP's efficient /red-black tree/ implementation can handle millions
of symbols without degrading performance. Contexts can hold symbol-value
pairs, allowing them to be used as hash-tables. Functions are also
available to iteratively access symbols inside contexts.
newLISP allocates and reclaims memory automatically, without using
traditional asynchronous garbage collection (except under error
conditions). All objects — except for contexts, built-in primitives, and
symbols — are passed by value and are referenced only once. When objects
are no longer referenced, their memory is automatically deallocated.
This results in predictable processing times without the pauses found in
traditional garbage collection. newLISP's unique automatic memory
management makes it the fastest interactive Lisp available.
Many of newLISP's built-in functions are polymorphic and accept a
variety of data types and optional parameters. This greatly reduces the
number of functions and syntactic forms it is necessary to learn and
implement. High-level functions are available for distributed computing,
parallel processing, financial math, statistics, and AI.
newLISP has functions to modify, insert, or delete elements inside
complex /nested/ lists or /multi-dimensional/ array structures.
Because strings can contain null characters in newLISP, they can be used
to process binary data.
newLISP can also be extended with a shared library interface to import
functions that access data in foreign binary data structures. The
distribution contains a module for importing popular database APIs.
newLISP's HTTP, TCP/IP, and UDP socket interfaces make it easy to write
distributed networked applications. Its built-in XML interface, along
with its text-processing features — Perl Compatible Regular Expressions
(PCRE) and text-parsing functions — make newLISP a useful tool for CGI
processing. The source distribution includes examples of HTML forms
processing. newLISP can be run a as a CGI capable web server using its
built-in http mode option.
newLISP has built-in support for distributed processing on networks and
parallel processing on the same CPU with one or more processing cores.
The source distribution can be compiled for Linux, BSDs, Mac OS
X/Darwin, Solaris, and Win32. On 64-bit Linux, Mac OS X, and True64Unix,
newLISP can be compiled as a 64-bit LP64 application for full 64-bit
memory addressing.
newLISP-GS comprises a graphical user interface (GUI) and library
server. The GUI front-end is written in newLISP, whereas the library
server is Java based and uses the standard Java runtime environment
installed on all Windows and Mac OS X platforms. Applications built with
newLISP-GS can have the host operating system's native look and feel.
Interfaces to GTK, Tcl/Tk and OpenGL graphics libraries are also available.
newLISP and Java are available for most operating systems. This makes
newLISP-GS a platform-independent solution for writing GUI applications.
For more information on newLISP-GS, see newLISP-GS
newLISP and newLISP-GS are licensed under version 3 of the GPL (General
Public License) <#GNUGPL>. The newLISP documentation as well as other
documentation packaged with newLISP are licensed under the GNU Free
Documentation License <#GNUFDL>.
( § )
2. Deprecated functions and future changes
The function swap <#swap> has a new syntax since 10.0.3. Any two places
referenced by a symbol, an indexed expression or an association
reference using assoc <#assoc> or lookup <#lookup> can be swapped.
Before this was possible only with symbols. The old syntax using three
parameters has been removed in version 10.0.5.
The functions error-number and error-text have been replaced by the
function last-error <#last-error> which returns the error number and
text together in a list. This is consisten with the behavior of the
other two error reporting functions net-error <#net-error> and sys-error
( § )
3. Command-line options, startup and directories
Command line help summary
When starting newLISP from the command-line several switches and options
and source files can be specified. Executing:
newlisp -h
in a command shell will produce the following summary of options and
-h this help
-n no init (must be first)
-s <stacksize>
-m <max-mem-megabyte>
-e <quoted lisp expression>
-l <path-file> log connections
-L <path-file> log all
-w <working-directory>
-c no prompts, HTTP
-C force prompts
-p <port-number>
-d <port-number>
-http HTTP only
Before or after the command-line switches, files to load and execute can
be specified. If a newLISP executable program is followed by parameters
the program must finish with and (exit) statement, else newLISP will
take command-line parameters as additional newLISP scripts to be loaded
and executed.
On Linux and other Unix systems, a newlisp /man page/ can be found:
man newlisp
This will display a man page in the Linux/Unix shell.
Specifying files as URLs
newLISP will load and execute files specified on the command-line. Files
are specified with either their pathname or a file:// URL on the local
file system or with a http:// URL on remote file systems running an HTTP
server. That HTTP server can be newLISP running in HTTP server mode.
newlisp aprog.lsp bprog.lsp prog.lsp
newlisp file:///usr/home/newlisp/demo.lsp
No loading of init.lsp
This option suppresses loading of any present initialization file
init.lsp or .init.lsp. In order to work, this must be the first option
newlisp -n
More about initialization files. <#initialization>
Stack size
newlisp -s 4000
newlisp -s 100000 aprog bprog
newlisp -s 6000 myprog
newlisp -s 6000
The above examples show starting newLISP with different stack sizes
using the -s option, as well as loading one or more newLISP source files
and loading files specified by an URL. When no stack size is specified,
the stack defaults to 2048. Per stack position about 80 bytes of memory
are preallocated.
Maximum memory usage
newlisp -m 128
This example limits newLISP cell memory to 128 megabytes. In 32-bit
newLISP, each Lisp cell consumes 16 bytes, so the argument 128 would
represent a maximum of 8,388,608 newLISP cells. This information is
returned by sys-info <#sys-info> as the list's second element. Although
Lisp cell memory is not the only memory consumed by newLISP, it is a
good estimate of overall dynamic memory usage.
Direct execution mode
Small pieces of newLISP code can be executed directly from the command-line:
newlisp -e "(+ 3 4)"
7 ; On Win32 and Unix
newlisp -e '(append "abc" "def")'
"abcdef" ; On Unix
The expression enclosed in quotation marks is evaluated, and the result
is printed to standard out (STDOUT). In most Unix system shells, single
quotes can also be used as command string delimiters. Note that there is
a space between -e and the quoted command string.
Logging I/O
In any mode, newLISP can write a log when started with the -l or -L
option. Depending on the mode newLISP is running, different output is
written to the log file. Both options always must specify the path of a
log-file. The path may be a relative path and can be either attached or
detached to the -l or -L option. The file must exist.
newlisp -l./logfile.txt -c
newlisp -L /usr/home/www/log.txt -http -w /usr/home/www/htpdocs
logging mode command-line and net-eval with -c HTTP server with -http
newlisp -l log only input and network connections log only network connections
newlisp -L log also newLISP output (w/o prompts) log also HTTP requests
All logging output is written to the file specified after the -l or -L
Specifying the working directory
The -w option specifies the initial working directory for newLISP after
newlisp -w /usr/home/newlisp
All file requests without a directory path will now be directed to the
path specified with the -w option.
Suppressing the prompt and HTTP processing
The command-line prompt and initial copyright banner can be suppressed:
newlisp -c
Listen and connection messages are suppressed if logging is not enabled.
The -c option is useful when controlling newLISP from other programs; it
is mandatory when setting it up as a net-eval <#net-eval> server.
The -c option also enables newLISP server nodes to answer HTTP GET, PUT,
POST and DELETE requests, as well as perform CGI processing. Using the
-c option, together with the -w and -d options, newLISP can serve as a
standalone httpd webserver:
newlisp -c -d 8080 -w /usr/home/www
When running newLISP as a inetd or xinetd enabled server on Unix
machines, use:
newlisp -c -w /usr/home/www
In -c mode, newLISP processes command-line requests as well as HTTP and
net-eval <#net-eval> requests. Running newLISP in this mode is only
recommended on a machine behind a firewall. This mode should not be run
on machines open and accessible through the Internet. To suppress the
processing of net-eval <#net-eval> and command-line–like requests, use
the safer -http option.
Forcing prompts in pipe I/O mode
A capital C forces prompts when running newLISP in pipe I/O mode inside
the Emacs editor:
newlisp -C
To suppress console output from return values from evaluations, use
silent <#silent>.
newLISP as a TCP/IP server
newlisp some.lsp -p 9090
This example shows how newLISP can listen for commands on a TCP/IP
socket connection. In this case, standard I/O is redirected to the port
specified with the -p option. some.lsp is an optional file loaded during
startup, before listening for a connection begins.
The -p option is mainly used to control newLISP from another
application, such as a newLISP GUI front-end or a program written in
another language. As soon as the controlling client closes the
connection, newLISP will exit.
A telnet application can be used to test running newLISP as a server.
First enter:
newlisp -p 4711 &
The & indicates to a Unix shell to run the process in the background. On
Windows, start the server process without the & in the foreground and
open a second command window for the telnet application. Now connect
with a telnet:
telnet localhost 4711
If connected, the newLISP sign-on banner and prompt appear. Instead of
4711, any other port number could be used.
When the client application closes the connection, newLISP will exit, too.
TCP/IP daemon mode
When the connection to the client is closed in -p mode, newLISP exits.
To avoid this, use the -d option instead of the -p option:
newlisp -d 4711 &
This works like the -p option, but newLISP does not exit after a
connection closes. Instead, it stays in memory, listening for a new
connection and preserving its state. An exit <#exit> issued from a
client application closes the network connection, and the newLISP daemon
remains resident, waiting for a new connection. Any port number could be
used in place of 4711.
When running in -p or -d mode, the opening and closing tags [cmd] and
[/cmd] must be used to enclose multiline statements. They must each
appear on separate lines. This makes it possible to transfer larger
portions of code from controlling applications.
The following variant of the -d mode is frequently used in a distributed
computing environment, together with net-eval <#net-eval> on the client
newlisp -c -d 4711 &
The -c spec suppresses prompts, making this mode suitable for receiving
requests from the net-eval <#net-eval> function.
newLISP server nodes running will also answer HTTP GET, PUT and DELETE
requests. This can be used to retrieve and store files with get-url
<#get-url>, put-url <#put-url>, delete-url <#delete-url>, read-file
<#read-file>, write-file <#write-file> and append-file <#append-file>,
or to load and save programs using load <#load> and save <#save> from
and to remote server nodes. See the chapters for the -c and -http
options for more details.
HTTP-only server mode
newLISP can be limited to HTTP processing using the -http option. With
this mode, a secure httpd web server daemon can be configured:
newlisp -http -d 8080 -w /usr/home/www
When running newLISP as an inetd or xinetd-enabled server on Unix
machines, use:
newlisp -http -w /usr/home/www
To further enhance security and HTTP processing, load a program during
startup when using this mode:
newlisp httpd-conf.lsp -http -w /usr/home/www
The file httpd-conf.lsp contains a command-event <#command-event>
function configuring a user-defined function to analyze, filter and
translate requests. See the reference for this function for a working
In the HTTP modes enabled by either -c or -http, the following file
types are recognized, and a correctly formatted Content-Type: header is
sent back:
file extension media type
.html text/html
.htm text/htm
.css text/css
.gif image/gif
.png image/png
.mp3 audio/mpeg
.wav audio/x-wav
.mpg video/mpeg
.mov video/quicktime
.avi video/x-msvideo
.pdf application/pdf
.js application/javascript
.zip application/zip
/any other/ text/plain
To serve CGI, HTTP server mode needs a /tmp directory on Unix-like
platforms or a C:\tmp directory on Win32. newLISP can process GET, PUT,
POST and DELETE requests and create custom response headers. More
information about CGI processing for newLISP server modes can be found
in the document Code Patterns in newLISP
Local domain Unix socket server
Instead of a port, a local domain Unix socket path can be specified in
the -d or -p server modes.
newlisp -c -d /tmp/mysocket &
Test the server using another newLISP process:
newlisp -e '(net-eval "/tmp/mysocket" 0 "(symbols)")'
A list of all built-in symbols will be printed to the terminal
This mode will work together with local domain socket modes of
net-connect <#net-connect>, net-listen <#net-listen>, and net-eval
<#net-eval>. Local domain sockets opened with net-connect and net-listen
can be served using net-accept <#net-accept>, net-receive
<#net-receive>, and net-send <#net-send>. Local domain socket
connections can be monitored using net-peek <#net-peek> and net-select
Local domain socket connections are much faster than normal TCP/IP
network connections and preferred for communications between processes
on the same local file system in distributed applications. This mode is
not available on Win32.
inetd daemon mode
The inetd server running on virtually all Linux/Unix OSes can function
as a proxy for newLISP. The server accepts TCP/IP or UDP connections and
passes on requests via standard I/O to newLISP. inetd starts a newLISP
process for each client connection. When a client disconnects, the
connection is closed and the newLISP process exits.
inetd and newLISP together can handle multiple connections efficiently
because of newLISP's small memory footprint, fast executable, and short
program load times. When working with net-eval <#net-eval>, this mode is
preferred for efficiently handling multiple requests in a distributed
computing environment.
Two files must be configured: services and inetd.conf. Both are
ASCII-editable and can usually be found at /etc/services and
Put one of the following lines into inetd.conf:
net-eval stream tcp nowait root /usr/bin/newlisp -c
# as an alternative, a program can also be preloaded
net-eval stream tcp nowait root /usr/bin/newlisp -c myprog.lsp
Instead of root, another user and optional group can be specified. For
details, see the Unix man page for inetd.
The following line is put into the services file:
net-eval 4711/tcp # newLISP net-eval requests
On Mac OS X and some Unix systems, xinetd can be used instead of inetd.
Save the following to a file named net-eval in the /etc/xinetd.d/
service net-eval
socket_type = stream
wait = no
user = root
server = /usr/bin/newlisp
port = 4711
server_args = -c
only_from = localhost
For security reasons, root should be changed to a different user when
traffic is accepted from other places than localhost. The only_from spec
can be left out to permit remote access.
See the man pages for xinetd and xinetd.conf for other configuration
After configuring the daemon, inetd or xinetd must be restarted to allow
the new or changed configuration files to be read:
kill -HUP <pid>
Replace <pid> with the process ID of the running xinetd process.
A number or network protocol other than 4711 or TCP can be specified.
newLISP handles everything as if the input were being entered on a
newLISP command-line without a prompt. To test the inetd setup, the
telnet program can be used:
telnet localhost 4711
newLISP expressions can now be entered, and inetd will automatically
handle the startup and communications of a newLISP process. Multiline
expressions can be entered by bracketing them with [cmd] and [/cmd]
tags, each on separate lines.
newLISP server nodes answer HTTP GET and PUT requests. This can be used
to retrieve and store files with get-url <#get-url>, put-url <#put-url>,
read-file <#read-file>, write-file <#write-file> and append-file
<#append-file>, or to load and save programs using load <#load> and save
<#save> from and to remote server nodes.
( § )
4. Startup, directories, environment
Environment variable NEWLISPDIR
During startup, newLISP sets the environment variable NEWLISPDIR, if it
is not set already. On Linux, BSDs, Mac OS X and other Unixes the
variable is set to /usr/share/newlisp. On Win32 the variable is set to
The environment variable NEWLISPDIR is useful when loading files
installed with newLISP:
(load (append (env "NEWLISPDIR") "/guiserver.lsp"))
(load (append (env "NEWLISPDIR") "/modules/mysql51.lsp"))
The following function loads modules from the standard location only if
the module was not loaded previously:
;; - include - loads a module from the standard location
;; only loads the file if not already loaded
;; example:
;; (include "zlib.lsp")
;; (include "sqlite3.lsp")
;; include:modules => ("zlib.lsp" "sqlite3.lsp")
(define (include:include module)
(unless (find module include:modules)
(load (append (env "NEWLISPDIR") "/modules/" module))
(push module include:modules -1)))
The initialization file init.lsp
Before loading any files specified on the command-line, and before the
banner and prompt are shown. newLISP tries to load a file .init.lsp from
the home directory of the user starting newLISP. On Mac OS X, Linux and
other Unix the home directory is found in the HOME environment variable.
On Win32 the is directory name is contained in the USERPROFILE or
DOCUMENT_ROOT environment variable.
If a .init.lsp cannot be found in the home directory newLISP tries to
load the file init.lsp from the directory found in the environment
variable NEWLISPDIR.
When newLISP is run as a shared libraryi, an initialization file is
looked for in the environment variable NEWLISPLIB_INIT. The full
path-name of the initialization file must be specified. If
NEWLISPLIB_INIT is not defined, no initialization file will be loaded by
the library module.
Although newLISP does not require init.lsp to run, it is convenient for
defining functions and system-wide variables.
Note that neither one of the initialization files init.lsp nor .init.lsp
is loaded during startup of linked programs.
Directories on Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and other Unix
The directory /usr/share/newlisp/modules contains modules with useful
functions for a variety of tasks, such as database management with
MySQL, procedures for statistics, POP3 mail, etc. The directory
/usr/share/newlisp/guiserver contains sample programs for writing GUI
applications with newLISP-GS. The directory /usr/share/doc/newlisp/
contains documentation in HTML format.
Directories on Win32
On Win32 systems, all files are installed in the default directory
%PROGRAMFILES%\newlisp. PROGRAMFILES is a Win32 environment variable
that resolves to C:\Program files\newlisp\ in English language
installations. The subdirectories %PROGRAMFILES%\newlisp\modules and
%PROGRAMFILES%\newlisp\guiserver contain modules for interfacing to
external libraries and sample programs written for newLISP-GS.
( § )
5. Shared library module for Unix
newLISP can be compiled as a Unix shared library called on
Linux and BSDs. A newLISP shared library can be used like any other Unix
shared library.
To use or newlisp.dylib, import the function newlispEvalStr.
Like eval-string <#eval-string>, this function takes a string containing
a newLISP expression and stores the result in a string address. The
result can be converted using get-string <#get-string>. The returned
string is formatted like output from a command-line session. It contains
terminating line-feed characters, but without the prompt strings.
The first example shows how is imported from newLISP itself.
(import "/usr/lib/" "newlispEvalStr")
(get-string (newlispEvalStr "(+ 3 4)")) → "7\n"
The second example shows how to import into a program written
in C:
/* libdemo.c - demo for importing
* compile using:
* gcc -ldl libdemo.c -o libdemo
* use:
* ./libdemo '(+ 3 4)'
* ./libdemo '(symbols)'
#include <stdio.h>
#include <dlfcn.h>
int main(int argc, char * argv[])
void * hLibrary;
char * result;
char * (*func)(char *);
char * error;
if((hLibrary = dlopen("/usr/lib/",
printf("cannot import library\n");
func = dlsym(hLibrary, "newlispEvalStr");
if((error = dlerror()) != NULL)
printf("error: %s\n", error);
printf("%s\n", (*func)(argv[1]));
/* eof */
This program will accept quoted newLISP expressions and print the
evaluated results.
When calling's function newlispEvalStr, output normally
directed to the console (e.g., return values or print <#print>
statements) is returned in the form of an integer string pointer. The
output can be accessed by passing this pointer to the get-string
function. To silence the output from return values, use the silent
<#silent> function.
( § )
6. DLL module for Win32 versions
On the Win32 platforms, newLISP can be compiled as a DLL (Dynamic Link
Library). In this way, newLISP functions can be made available to other
programs (e.g., MS Excel, Visual Basic, Borland Delphi, or even newLISP
To access the functionality of the DLL, use newlispEvalStr, which takes
a string containing a valid newLISP expression and returns a string of
the result:
(import "newlisp.dll" "newlispEvalStr")
(get-string (newlispEvalStr "(+ 3 4)")) → "7"
The above example shows the loading of a DLL using newLISP. The
get-string <#get-string> function is necessary to access the string
being returned. Other applications running on Win32 allow the returned
data type to be declared when importing the function.
When using newLISP as a library module, output normally directed to the
console — like print <#print> statements or return values — will be
returned in a string pointed to by the call to newlispEvalStr. To
silence the output from return values, use the silent <#silent> directive.
( § )
7. Evaluating newLISP expressions
The following is a short introduction to newLISP statement evaluation
and the role of integer and floating point arithmetic in newLISP.
Top-level expressions are evaluated when using the load <#load> function
or when entering expressions in console mode on the command-line. As
shown in the following snippet from an interactive session, multiline
expressions can be entered by enclosing them between [cmd] and [/cmd] tags:
> [cmd]
(define (foo x y)
(+ x y))
*(lambda (x y) (+ x y))*
> (foo 3 4)
> _
Each [cmd] and [/cmd] tag is entered on a separate line. This mode is
useful for pasting multiline code into the interactive console.
Integer, floating point data and operators
newLISP functions and operators accept integer and floating point
numbers, converting them into the needed format. For example, a
bit-manipulating operator converts a floating point number into an
integer by omitting the fractional part. In the same fashion, a
trigonometric function will internally convert an integer into a
floating point number before performing its calculation.
The symbol operators (+ - * / % $ ~ | ^ << >>) return values of type
integer. Functions and operators named with a word instead of a symbol
(e.g., add rather than +) return floating point numbers. Integer
operators truncate floating point numbers to integers, discarding the
fractional parts.
newLISP has two types of basic arithmetic operators: integer (+ - * /)
and floating point (add sub mul div). The arithmetic functions convert
their arguments into types compatible with the function's own type:
integer function arguments into integers, floating point function
arguments into floating points. To make newLISP behave more like other
scripting languages, the integer operators +, -, *, and / can be
redefined to perform the floating point operators add, sub, mul, and div:
(constant '+ add)
(constant '- sub)
(constant '* mul)
(constant '/ div)
;; or all 4 operators at once
(constant '+ add '- sub '* mul '/ div)
Now the common arithmetic operators +, -, *, and / accept both integer
and floating point numbers and return floating point results.
Note that the looping variables in dotimes <#dotimes> and for <#for>, as
well as the result of sequence <#sequence>, use floating point numbers
for their values.
Care must be taken when importing from libraries that use functions
expecting integers. After redefining +, -, *, and /, a double floating
point number may be unintentionally passed to an imported function
instead of an integer. In this case, floating point numbers can be
converted into integers by using the function int <#int>. Likewise,
integers can be transformed into floating point numbers using the float
<#float> function:
(import "mylib.dll" "foo") ; importing int foo(int x) from C
(foo (int x)) ; passed argument as integer
(import "mylib.dll" "bar") ; importing C int bar(double y)
(bar (float y)) ; force double float
Some of the modules shipping with newLISP are written assuming the
default implementations of +, -, *, and /. This gives imported library
functions maximum speed when performing address calculations.
The newLISP preference is to leave +, -, *, and / defined as integer
operators and use add, sub, mul, and div when explicitly required. Since
version 8.9.7, integer operations in newLISP are 64 bit operations,
whereas 64 bit double floating point numbers offer only 52 bits of
resolution in the integer part of the number.
Evaluation rules and data types
Evaluate expressions by entering and editing them on the command-line.
More complicated programs can be entered using editors like Emacs and
VI, which have modes to show matching parentheses while typing. Load a
saved file back into a console session by using the load <#load> function.
A line comment begins with a ; (semicolon) or a # (number sign) and
extends to the end of the line. newLISP ignores this line during
evaluation. The # is useful when using newLISP as a scripting language
in Linux/Unix environments, where the # is commonly used as a line
comment in scripts and shells.
When evaluation occurs from the command-line, the result is printed to
the console window.
The following examples can be entered on the command-line by typing the
code to the left of the → symbol. The result that appears on the next
line should match the code to the right of the → symbol.
*nil* and *true* are Boolean data types that evaluate to themselves:
true → true
*Integers* and *floating point* numbers evaluate to themselves:
0xE8232 ; hexadecimal prefixed by 0x
05545 ; octal prefixed by 0 (zero)
123e-30.123 ; scientific notation
Integers are 64-bit numbers (including the sign bit, 32-bit before
version 8.9.7). Valid integers are numbers between
-9,223,372,036,854,775,808 and +9,223,372,036,854,775,807. Larger
numbers converted from floating point numbers are truncated to one of
the two limits. Integers internal to newLISP, which are limited to
32-bit numbers, overflow to either +2,147,483,647 or -2,147,483,648.
Floating point numbers are IEEE 754 64-bit doubles. Unsigned numbers up
to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 can be displayed using special formatting
characters for format <#format>.
*Strings* may contain null characters and can have different delimiters.
They evaluate to themselves.
"\032\032\065\032"" A "
"\x20\x20\x41\x20"" A "
;; null characters are legal in strings:
{this "is" a string} → "this \"is\" a string"
;; use [text] tags for text longer than 2048 bytes:
[text]this is a string, too[/text]
"this is a string, too"
Strings delimited by \" (double quotes) will also process the following
characters escaped with a \ (backslash):
character description
\" for a double quote inside a quoted string
\n for a line-feed character (ASCII 10)
\r for a return character (ASCII 13)
\t for a TAB character (ASCII 9)
\nnn for a three-digit ASCII number (nnn format between 000 and 255)
\xnn for a two-digit-hex ASCII number (xnn format between x00 and xff)
Quoted strings cannot exceed 2,048 characters. Longer strings should use
the [text] and [/text] tag delimiters. newLISP automatically uses these
tags for string output longer than 2,048 characters.
The { (left curly bracket), } (right curly bracket), and [text], [/text]
delimiters do not perform escape character processing.
*Lambda and lambda-macro expressions* evaluate to themselves:
(lambda (x) (* x x)) → (lambda (x) (* x x))
(lambda-macro (a b) (set (eval a) b)) → (lambda-macro (a b) (set (eval a) b))
(fn (x) (* x x)) → (lambda (x) (* x x)) ; an alternative syntax
*Symbols* evaluate to their contents:
(set 'something 123) → 123
something → 123
*Contexts* evaluate to themselves:
(context 'CTX) → CTX
*Built-in functions* also evaluate to themselves:
add → add <B845770D>
(eval (eval add)) → add <B845770D>
(constant '+ add) → add <B845770D>
+ → add <B845770D>
In the above example, the number between the < > (angle brackets) is the
hexadecimal memory address (machine-dependent) of the add function. It
is displayed when printing a built-in primitive.
*Quoted expressions* lose one ' (single quote) when evaluated:
'something → something
''''any → '''any
'(a b c d) → (a b c d)
A single quote is often used to /protect/ an expression from evaluation
(e.g., when referring to the symbol itself instead of its contents or to
a list representing data instead of a function).
In newLISP, a *list*'s first element is evaluated before the rest of the
expression (as in Scheme). The result of the evaluation is applied to
the remaining elements in the list and must be one of the following: a
/lambda/ expression, /lambda-macro/ expression, or /primitive/
(built-in) function.
(+ 1 2 3 4) → 10
(define (double x) (+ x x)) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
(set 'double (lambda (x) (+ x x)))
(double 20) → 40
((lambda (x) (* x x)) 5) → 25
For a user-defined lambda expression, newLISP evaluates the arguments
from left to right and binds the results to the parameters (also from
left to right), before using the results in the body of the expression.
Like Scheme, newLISP evaluates the /functor/ (function object) part of
an expression before applying the result to its arguments. For example:
((if (> X 10) * +) X Y)
Depending on the value of X, this expression applies the * (product) or
+ (sum) function to X and Y.
Because their arguments are not evaluated, *lambda-macro* expressions
are useful for extending the syntax of the language. Most built-in
functions evaluate their arguments from left to right (as needed) when
executed. Some exceptions to this rule are indicated in the reference
section of this manual. Lisp functions that do not evaluate all or some
of their arguments are called /special forms/.
*Arrays* evaluate to themselves:
(set 'A (array 2 2 '(1 2 3 4))) → ((1 2) (3 4))
(eval A) → ((1 2) (3 4))
*Shell commands*: If an ! (exclamation mark) is entered as the first
character on the command-line followed by a shell command, the command
will be executed. For example, !ls on Unix or !dir on Win32 will display
a listing of the present working directory. No spaces are permitted
between the ! and the shell command. Symbols beginning with an ! are
still allowed inside expressions or on the command-line when preceded by
a space. Note: This mode only works when running in the shell and does
not work when controlling newLISP from another application.
To exit the newLISP shell on Linux/Unix, press Ctrl-D; on Win32, type
(exit) or Ctrl-C, then the x key.
Use the exec <#exec> function to access shell commands from other
applications or to pass results back to newLISP.
( § )
8. Lambda expressions in newLISP
Lambda expressions in newLISP evaluate to themselves and can be treated
just like regular lists:
(set 'double (lambda (x) (+ x x)))
(set 'double (fn (x) (+ x x))) ; alternative syntax
(last double) → (+ x x) ; treat lambda as a list
Note: No ' is necessary before the lambda expression because lambda
expressions evaluate to themselves in newLISP.
The second line uses the keyword fn, an alternative syntax first
suggested by Paul Graham for his Arc language project.
A lambda expression is a /lambda list/, a subtype of /list/, and its
arguments can associate from left to right or right to left. When using
append <#append>, for example, the arguments associate from left to right:
(append (lambda (x)) '((+ x x))) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
cons <#cons>, on the other hand, associates the arguments from right to
(cons '(x) (lambda (+ x x))) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
Note that the lambda keyword is not a symbol in a list, but a designator
of a special /type/ of list: the /lambda list/.
(length (lambda (x) (+ x x))) → 2
(first (lambda (x) (+ x x))) → (x)
Lambda expressions can be mapped or applied onto arguments to work as
user-defined, anonymous functions:
((lambda (x) (+ x x)) 123) → 246
(apply (lambda (x) (+ x x)) '(123)) → 246
(map (lambda (x) (+ x x)) '(1 2 3)) → (2 4 6)
A lambda expression can be assigned to a symbol, which in turn can be
used as a function:
(set 'double (lambda (x) (+ x x))) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
(double 123) → 246
The define <#define> function is just a shorter way of assigning a
lambda expression to a symbol:
(define (double x) (+ x x))) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
(double 123) → 246
In the above example, the expressions inside the lambda list are still
accessible within double:
(set 'double (lambda (x) (+ x x))) → (lambda (x) (+ x x))
(last double) → (+ x x)
A lambda list can be manipulated as a first-class object using any
function that operates on lists:
(setf (nth 1 double) '(mul 2 x)) → (lambda (x) (mul 2 x))
double → (lambda (x) (mul 2 x))
(double 123) → 246
All arguments are optional when applying lambda expressions and default
to nil when not supplied by the user. This makes it possible to write
functions with multiple parameter signatures.
( § )
9. nil, true, cons, and ()
In newLISP, nil and true represent both the symbols and the Boolean
values /false/ and /true/. Depending on their context, nil and true are
treated differently. The following examples use nil, but they can be
applied to true by simply reversing the logic.
Evaluation of nil yields a Boolean false and is treated as such inside
flow control expressions such as if, unless, while, until, and not.
Likewise, evaluating true yields true.
(set 'lst '(nil nil nil)) → (nil nil nil)
(map symbol? lst) → (true true true)
In the above example, nil represents a symbol. In the following example,
nil and true are evaluated and represent Boolean values:
(if nil "no" "yes") → "yes"
(if true "yes" "no") → "yes"
(map not lst) → (true true true)
In newLISP, nil and the empty list () are not the same as in some other
Lisps. Only in conditional expressions are they treated as a Boolean
false, as in and, or, if, while, unless, until, and cond.
Evaluation of (cons 'x '()) yields (x), but (cons 'x nil) yields (x nil)
because nil is treated as a Boolean value when evaluated not as an empty
list. The cons of two atoms in newLISP does not yield a dotted pair, but
rather a two-element list. The predicate atom? is true for nil, but
false for the empty list. The empty list in newLISP is only an empty
list and not equal to nil.
A list in newLISP is a newLISP cell of type list. It acts like a
container for the linked list of elements making up the list cell's
contents. There is no /dotted pair/ in newLISP because the /cdr/ (tail)
part of a Lisp cell always points to another Lisp cell and never to a
basic data type, such as a number or a symbol. Only the /car/ (head)
part may contain a basic data type. Early Lisp implementations used
/car/ and /cdr/ for the names /head/ and /tail/.
( § )
10. Arrays
newLISP's arrays enable fast element access within large lists. New
arrays can be constructed and initialized with the contents of an
existing list using the function array <#array>. Lists can be converted
into arrays, and vice versa. Most of the same functions used for
modifying and accessing lists can be applied to arrays, as well. Arrays
can hold any type of data or combination thereof.
In particular, the following functions can be used for creating,
accessing, and modifying arrays:
function description
append <#append> appends arrays
array <#array> creates and initializes an array with up to 16 dimensions
array-list <#array-list> converts an array into a list
array? <#arrayp> checks if expression is an array
det <#det> returns the determinant of a matrix
first <#first> returns the first row of an array
invert <#invert> returns the inversion of a matrix
last <#last> returns the last row of an array
mat <#mat> perform scalar operations on matrices
multiply <#multiply> multiplies two matrices
nth <#nth> returns an element of and array
rest <#rest> returns all but the first row of an array
setf <#setf> sets contents of an array reference
slice <#slice> returns a slice of an array
sort <#sort> sort the elements in an array
transpose <#transpose> transposes a matrix
newLISP represents multidimensional arrays with an array of arrays
(i.e., the elements of the array are themselves arrays).
When used interactively, newLISP prints and displays arrays as lists,
with no way of distinguishing between them.
Use the source <#source> or save <#save> functions to serialize arrays
(or the variables containing them). The array <#array> statement is
included as part of the definition when serializing arrays.
Like lists, negative indices can be used to enumerate the elements of an
array, starting from the last element.
An out-of-bounds index will cause an error message on an array or list.
Arrays can be non-rectangular, but they are made rectangular during
serialization when using source <#source> or save <#save>. The array
<#array> function always constructs arrays in rectangular form.
The matrix functions det <#det>, transpose <#transpose>, multiply
<#multiply>, and invert <#invert> can be used on matrices built with
nested lists or arrays built with array <#array>.
For more details, see array <#array>, array? <#arrayp>, and array-list
<#array-list> in the reference section of this manual.
( § )
11. Indexing elements of strings, lists, and arrays
Some functions take array, list, or string elements (characters)
specified by one or more /int-index/ (integer index). The positive
indices run 0, 1, …, N-2, N-1, where N is the number of elements in the
list. If /int-index/ is negative, the sequence is -N, -N+1, …, -2, -1.
Adding N to the negative index of an element yields the positive index.
Unless a function does otherwise, an index greater than N-1 or less then
-N causes an out-of-bounds error in lists and arrays.
Implicit indexing for nth
Implicit indexing can be used instead of nth <#nth> to retrieve the
elements of a list or array or the characters of a string:
(set 'lst '(a b c (d e) (f g)))
(lst 0) → a ; same as (nth (lst 0))
(lst 3) → (d e)
(lst 3 1) → e ; same as (nth (lst 3 1))
(lst -1) → (f g)
(set 'myarray (array 3 2 (sequence 1 6)))
(myarray 1) → (3 4)
(myarray 1 0) → 3
(myarray 0 -1) → 2
("newLISP" 3) → "L"
Indices may also be supplied from a list. In this way, implicit indexing
works together with functions that take or produce index vectors, such
as push <#push>, pop <#pop>, ref <#ref> and ref-all <#ref-all>.
(lst '(3 1)) → e
(set 'vec (ref 'e lst)) → (3 1)
(lst vec) → e
Note that implicit indexing is not breaking newLISP syntax rules but is
merely an expansion of existing rules to other data types in the functor
position of an s-expression. In original Lisp, the first element in an
s-expression list is applied as a function to the rest elements as
arguments. In newLISP, a list in the functor position of an s-expression
assumes self-indexing functionality using the index arguments following it.
Implicit indexing is faster than the explicit forms, but the explicit
forms may be more readable depending on context.
Note that in the UTF-8–enabled version of newLISP, implicit indexing of
strings or using the nth <#nth> function work on character rather than
single-byte boundaries.
Implicit indexing and the default functor
The /default functor/ is a functor inside a context with the same name
as the context itself. See The context default function
<#default_function> chapter. A default functor can be used together with
implicit indexing to serve as a mechanism for referencing lists:
(set 'MyList:MyList '(a b c d e f g))
(MyList 0) → a
(MyList 3) → d
(MyList -1) → g
(3 2 MyList) → (d e)
(-3 MyList) → (e f g)
(set 'aList MyList)
(aList 3) → d
In this example, aList references MyList:MyList, not a copy of it. For
more information about contexts, see Programming with contexts
The indexed default functor can also be used with setf <#setf> as shown
in the following example:
(set 'MyList:MyList '(a b c d e f g))
(setf (MyList 3) 999) → 999
(MyList 3) → 999
MyList:MyList → (a b c 999 e f g)
Implicit indexing for rest and slice
Implicit forms of rest <#rest> and slice <#slice> can be created by
prepending a list with one or two numbers for offset and length. If the
length is negative it counts from the end of the list or string:
(set 'lst '(a b c d e f g))
; or as array
(set 'lst (array 7 '(a b c d e f g)))
(1 lst) → (b c d e f g)
(2 lst) → (c d e f g)
(2 3 lst) → (c d e)
(-3 2 lst) → (e f)
(2 -2 lst) → (c d e)
(set 'str "abcdefg")
(1 str) → "bcdefg"
(2 str) → "cdefg"
(2 3 str) → "cde"
(-3 2 str) → "ef"
(2 -2 str) → "cde"
The functions rest <#rest>, first <#first> and last <#last> work on
multi-byte character boundaries in UTF-8 enabled versions of newLISP.
But the implicit indexing forms for slicing and resting will always work
on single-byte boundaries and can be used for binary content. Ofset and
length results from the regular expression functions find <#find> and
regex <#regex> are also in single-byte counts and can be further
processed with slice <#slice> or it's implicit form.
Modify references in lists, arrays and strings
Parts in lists, arrays and strings referenced by indices can be modified
using setf <#setf>:
; lists
(set 'lst '(a b c d (e f g)))
(lst 1) → b
(setf (lst 1) 'z) → z
lst → (a z c d (e f g))
(setf (lst -1) '(E F G)) → (E F G)
lst → (a z c d (E F G))
; arrays
(set 'myarray (array 2 3 (sequence 1 6))) → ((1 2 3) (4 5 6))
(setf (myarray 1 2) 66) → 66
myarray → ((1 2 3) (4 5 66))
; strings
(set 's "NewLISP")
(setf (s 0) "n") → "n"
s → "newLISP"
Note that only full elements or nested lists or arrays can be changed
this way. Slices or rest parts of lists or arrays as used in implicit
resting or slicing cannot be substituted at once using setf <#setf>, but
would have to be substituted element by element. In strings only one
character can be replaced at a time, but that character can be replaced
by a multi-chracacter string.
( § )
12. Destructive versus nondestructive functions
Most of the primitives in newLISP are nondestructive (no /side effects/)
and leave existing objects untouched, although they may create new ones.
There are a few destructive functions, however, that /do/ change the
contents of a variable, list, array, or string.
function description
bind binds variable associations in a list
constant sets the contents of a variable and protects it
dec decrements a number referenced by a variable, list or array
define sets the contents of a variable
inc increments a number referenced by a variable, list or array
net-receive reads into a buffer variable
pop pops an element from a list or string
pop-assoc removes an association from an association list
push pushes a new element onto a list or string
read-buffer reads into a buffer variable
receive receives a message from a parent or child process
replace replaces elements in a list or string
reverse reverses a list or string
rotate rotates the elements of a list or characters of a string
set sets the contents of a variable
setf setq sets the contents of a variable, list, array or string
set-ref searches for an element in a nested list and replaces it
set-ref-all searches for an element in a nested list and replaces all instances
sort sorts the elements of a list or array
swap swaps two elements inside a list or string
write-buffer writes to a string buffer or file
write-line writes to a string buffer or file
Note that the last two functions, write-buffer <#write-buffer> and
write-line <#write-line>, are destructive in diffferent ways. Depending
on the syntactic form used, either a string buffer or a disk file is
Make a destructive function non-destructive
Some destructive functions can be made non-destructive by wrapping the
target object into the copy <#copy> function.
(set 'aList '(a b c d e f))
(replace 'c (copy aList)) → (a b d e f)
aList → (a b c d e f)
The list in aList is left unchanged.
( § )
13. Dynamic and lexical scoping
newLISP uses dynamic scoping /inside/ contexts. A context is a lexically
closed namespace. In this way, parts of a newLISP program can live in
different namespaces taking advantage of /lexical scoping/.
When the parameter symbols of a lambda expression are bound to its
arguments, the old bindings are pushed onto a stack. newLISP
automatically restores the original variable bindings when leaving the
lambda function.
The following example illustrates the /dynamic scoping/ mechanism. The
text in bold is the output from newLISP:
> (set 'x 1)
> (define (f) x)
*(lambda () x)*
> (f)
> (define (g x) (f))
*(lambda (x) (f))*
> (g 0)
> (f)
> _
The variable x is first set to 1. But when (g 0) is called, x is bound
to 0 and x is reported by (f) as 0 during execution of (g 0). After
execution of (g 0), the call to (f) will report x as 1 again.
This is different from the /lexical scoping/ mechanisms found in
languages like C or Java, where the binding of local parameters occurs
inside the function only. In lexically scoped languages like C, (f)
would always print the global bindings of the symbol x with 1.
Be aware that passing quoted symbols to a user-defined function causes a
name clash if the same variable name is used as a function parameter:
(define (inc-symbol x y) (inc (eval x) y))
(set 'y 200)
(inc-symbol 'y 123) → 246
y → 200 ; y is still 200
Because the global y shares the same symbol as the function's second
parameter, inc-symbol returns 246 (123 + 123), leaving the global y
unaffected. Dynamic scoping's /variable capture/ can be a disadvantage
when passing symbol references to user-defined functions. newLISP offers
several methods to avoid variable capture.
* The function args <#args> can be used when passing symbols.
* One or more user-defined functions can be placed in their own
namespace called a context <#contexts>. A symbol name clash cannot
occur when accessing symbols and calling functions from /outside/
of the defining context.
Contexts should be used to group related functions when creating
interfaces or function libraries. This surrounds the functions with a
lexical "fence", thus avoiding variable name clashes with the calling
newLISP uses contexts for different forms of lexical scoping. See the
chapters Contexts <#contexts> and Programming with contexts
<#context_objects>, as well as the section default functions
<#default_function> for more information.
( § )
14. Early return from functions, loops, and blocks
What follows are methods of interrupting the control flow inside both
loops and the begin <#begin> expression.
The looping functions dolist <#dolist> and dotimes <#dotimes> can take
optional conditional expressions to leave the loop early. catch <#catch>
and throw <#throw> are a more general form to break out of a loop body
and are also applicable to other forms or statement blocks.
Using catch and throw
Because newLISP is a functional language, it uses no break or return
statements to exit functions or iterations. Instead, a block or function
can be exited at any point using the functions catch <#catch> and throw
(define (foo x)
(if condition (throw 123))
;; if condition is true
(catch (foo p)) → 123
;; if condition is not true
(catch (foo p)) → 456
Breaking out of loops works in a similar way:
(dotimes (i N)
(if (= (foo i) 100) (throw i))))
→ value of i when foo(i) equals 100
The example shows how an iteration can be exited before executing N times.
Multiple points of return can be coded using throw <#throw>:
(catch (begin
(if condition-A (throw 'x))
(if condition-B (throw 'y))
If condition-A is true, x will be returned from the catch expression; if
condition-B is true, the value returned is y. Otherwise, the result from
foo5 will be used as the return value.
As an alternative to catch <#catch>, the throw-error <#throw-error>
function can be used to catch errors caused by faulty code or
user-initiated exceptions.
Using and and or
Using the logical functions and <#and> and or <#or>, blocks of
statements can be built that are exited depending on the Boolean result
of the enclosed functions:
The and <#and> expression will return as soon as one of the block's
functions returns nil or an () (empty list). If none of the preceding
functions causes an exit from the block, the result of the last function
is returned.
or <#or> can be used in a similar fashion:
The result of the or <#or> expression will be the first function that
returns a value which is /not/ nil or ().
( § )
15. Contexts
In newLISP, symbols can be separated into namespaces called /contexts/.
Each context has a private symbol table separate from all other
contexts. Symbols known in one context are unknown in others, so the
same name may be used in different contexts without conflict.
Contexts are used to build modules of isolated variable and function
definitions. They can also be copied and dynamically assigned to
variables or passed as arguments. Because contexts in newLISP have
lexically separated namespaces, they allow programming with /lexical
scoping/ and software object styles of programming.
Contexts are identified by symbols that are part of the root or MAIN
context. Although context symbols are uppercased in this chapter,
lowercase symbols may also be used.
In addition to context names, MAIN contains the symbols for built-in
functions and special symbols such as true and nil. The MAIN context is
created automatically each time newLISP is run. To see all the symbols
in MAIN, enter the following expression after starting newLISP:
Symbol creation in contexts
The following rules should simplify the process of understanding
contexts by identifying to which context the created symbols are being
1. newLISP first parses and translates each top level expression. The
symbols are created during this phase. After the expression is
translated, it gets evaluated.
2. A symbol is created when newLISP first /sees/ it, when calling the
load <#load>, sym <#sym>, or eval-string <#eval-string> functions.
When newLISP reads a source file, symbols are created /before/
evaluation occurs.
3. When an unknown symbol is encountered during code translation, a
search for its definition begins inside the current context.
Failing that, the search continues inside MAIN for a built-in
function, context, or global symbol. If no definition is found,
the symbol is created locally inside the current context.
4. Once a symbol is created and assigned to a specific context, it
will belong to that context permanently.
5. When a user-defined function is evaluated, the context is switched
to the parent context of the symbol it is called with.
6. A context switch only influences symbol creation during load
<#load>, sym <#sym>, or eval-string <#eval-string>. load <#load>
by default loads into MAIN except when context switches occur on
the top level of the file loaded. The context should always be
specified when the functions sym <#sym> and eval-string
<#eval-string> are used. When this rule is followed, a context
switch should _only_ occur on the top level of a program, _never_
inside a function.
Creating contexts
Contexts can be created either by using the context <#context> function
or via implicit creation. The first method is used when writing larger
portions of code belonging the same context:
(context 'FOO)
(set 'var 123)
(define (func x y z)
... )
(context MAIN)
If the context does not exist yet, the context symbol must be quoted. If
the symbol is not quoted, newLISP assumes the symbol is a variable
holding the symbol of the context to create. Because a context evaluates
to itself, existing contexts like MAIN do not require quoting.
When newLISP reads the above code, it will read, then evaluate the first
statement: (context 'FOO). This causes newLISP to switch the namespace
to FOO and the following symbols var, x, y and z will all be created in
the FOO context when reading and evaluating the remaining expressions.
To refer to var or func from anywhere else outside the FOO namespace
they need to be prefixed with the context name:
FOO:var → 123
(FOO:func p q r)
The symbols <#symbols> function is used to show all symbols belonging to
a context
(symbols FOO) → (FOO:func FOO:var FOO:x FOO:y FOO:z)
*Implicitly creating contexts*
A context is implicitly created when referring to one that does not yet
exist. Unlike the context function, the context is not switched. The
following statements are all executed inside the MAIN context:
> (set 'ACTX:var "hello")
> ACTX:var
> _
Note that only the symbols prefixed with their context name will be part
of the context:
(define (ACTX:foo x y)
(+ x y))
When above code is loaded in MAIN only foo will be part of ACTX. The
symbols x and y will still be part of MAIN.
*Loading module files*
When loading source files on the command-line with load <#load>, or when
executing the functions eval-string <#eval-string> or sym <#sym>, the
context function tells newLISP where to put all of the symbols and
;;; file MY_PROG.LSP
;; everything from here on goes into GRAPH
(context 'GRAPH)
(define (draw-triangle x y z)
(define (draw-circle)
;; show the runtime context, which is GRAPH
(define (foo)
;; switch back to MAIN
(context 'MAIN)
;; end of file
The draw-triangle and draw-circle functions — along with their x, y, and
z parameters — are now part of the GRAPH context. These symbols are
known only to GRAPH. To call these functions from another context,
prefix them with GRAPH:
(GRAPH:draw-triangle 1 2 3)
The last statement shows how the runtime context has changed to GRAPH
(function foo's context).
A symbol's name and context are used when comparing symbols from
different contexts. The name <#name> function can be used to extract the
name part from a fully qualified symbol.
;; same symbol name, but different context name
(= 'A:val 'B:val) → nil
(= (name 'A:val) (name 'B:val)) → true
Note: The symbols are quoted with a ' (single quote) because we are
interested in the symbol itself, not in the contents of the symbol.
Global scope
By default, only built-in functions and symbols like nil and true are
visible inside contexts other than MAIN. To make a symbol visible to
every context, use the global <#global> function:
(set 'aVar 123) → 123
(global 'aVar) → aVar
(context 'FOO) → FOO
aVar → 123
Without the global statement, the second aVar would have returned nil
instead of 123. If FOO had a previously defined symbol (aVar in this
example) /that/ symbol's value — and not the global's — would be
returned instead. Note that only symbols from the MAIN context can be
made global.
Once it is made visible to contexts through the global <#global>
function, a symbol cannot be hidden from them again.
Symbol protection
By using the constant <#constant> function, symbols can be both set and
protected from change at the same time:
> (constant 'aVar 123) → 123
> (set 'aVar 999)
ERR: symbol is protected in function set : aVar
A symbol needing to be both a constant and a global can be defined
(constant (global 'aVar) 123)
In the current context, symbols protected by constant can be overwritten
by using the constant function again. This protects the symbols from
being overwritten by code in other contexts.
Overwriting global symbols and built-ins
Global and built-in function symbols can be overwritten inside a context
by prefixing them with their /own/ context symbol:
(context 'Account)
(define (Account:new …)
(context 'MAIN)
In this example, the built-in function new <#new> is overwritten by
Account:new, a different function that is private to the Account context.
Variables containing contexts
Variables can be used to refer to contexts:
(set 'FOO:x 123)
(set 'ctx FOO) → FOO
ctx:x → 123
(set 'ctx:x 999) → 999
FOO:x → 999
Context variables ate useful when writing functions, which need to
switch contexts or use contexts which do not exist yet:
(define (update ctx val)
(set 'ctx:sum val)
(ctx:func 999)
(context 'FOO)
(define (func x)
(println "=>" x))
(context MAIN)
The following shows a terminal session using above definitions. The
program output is shown in bold-face:
*>* (update FOO 123)
*=> 999*
*>* FOO:sum
The same one function update can display different behavior depending on
the context passed as first parameter.
Sequence of creating or loading contexts
The sequence in which contexts are created or loaded can lead to
unexpected results. Enter the following code into a file called demo:
;; demo - file for loading contexts
(context 'FOO)
(set 'ABC 123)
(context MAIN)
(context 'ABC)
(set 'FOO 456)
(context 'MAIN)
Now load the file into the newlisp shell:
> (load "demo")
ERR: symbol is protected in function set : FOO
> _
Loading the file causes an error message for FOO, but not for ABC. When
the first context FOO is loaded, the context ABC does not exist yet, so
a local variable FOO:ABC gets created. When ABC loads, FOO already
exists as a global protected symbol and will be correctly flagged as
FOO could still be used as a local variable in the ABC context by
explicitly prefixing it, as in ABC:FOO.
The following pattern can be applied to avoid unexpected behavior when
loading contexts being used as modules to build larger applications:
;; begin of file - MyModule.lsp
(load "This.lsp")
(load "That.lsp")
(load "Other.lsp")
(context 'MyModule)
(define (func x y z) (…))
(context 'MAIN)
(MyModule:func 1 2 3)
;; end of file
Always load the modules required by a context /before/ the module's
context statement. Always finish by switching back to the MAIN context,
where the module's functions and values can be safely accessed.
Contexts as programming modules
Contexts in newLISP are mainly used for partitioning source into
modules. Because each module lives in a different namespace, modules are
lexically separated and the names of symbols cannot clash with identical
names in other modules.
The modules <>, which are part of the
newLISP distribution, are a good example of how to put related functions
into a module file, and how to document modules using the newLISPdoc
<> utility.
For best programming practice, a file should only contain one module and
the filename should be similar if not identical to the context name used:
;; file db.lsp, commonly used database functions
(context 'db)
;; Variables used throughout this namespace
(define db:handle)
(define db:host "http://localhost")
;; Constants
(constant 'Max_N 1000000)
(constant 'Path "/usr/data/")
;; Functions
(define (db:open ... )
... )
(define (db:close ... )
... )
(define (db:update ... )
... )
The example shows a good practice of predefining variables, which are
global inside the namespace, and defining as constants the variables
that will not change.
If a file contains more than one context, then the end of the context
should be marked with a switch back to MAIN:
;; Multi context file multi.lsp
(context 'A-ctx)
(context MAIN)
(context 'B-ctx)
(context MAIN)
(context 'C-ctx)
(context MAIN)
Contexts as data containers
Contexts are frequently uses as data containers, e.g. for hash-like
dictionaries and configuration data:
;; Config.lsp - configuration setup
(context 'Config)
(set 'user-name "admin")
(set 'password "secret")
(set 'db-name "/usr/data/db.lsp")
;; eof
Loading the Config namespace will now load a whole variable set into
memory at once:
(load "Config.lsp")
(set 'file (open Config:db-name "read"))
In a similar fashion a whole data set can be saved:
(save "Config.lsp" 'Config)
Read more about this in the section Serializing contexts <#serializing>.
Loading and declaring contexts
Module files are loaded using the load <#load> function. If a
programming project contains numerous modules that refer to each other,
they should be pre-declared to avoid problems due to context forward
references that can occur before the loading of that context.
;; pre-declaring contexts, finish with Main to return
(map context '(Utilities Config Acquisition Analysis SysLog Main))
;; loading context module files
(load "Utilities.lsp" "Acquisition.lsp")
(load "") ; load module from remote location
(load "Analysis.lsp" "SysLog.lsp")
(define (run)
... )
;; end of file
When pre-declaring and loading modules as shown in the example, the
sequence of declaration or loading can be neglected. All forward
references to variables and definitions in modules not loaded yet will
be translated correctly.
Modules not starting with a context switch are always loaded into MAIN
except when the load <#load> statement specifies a target context as the
last parameter. The load <#load> function can take URLs to load modules
from remote locations, via HTTP.
The current context after the load <#load> statement will always be the
same as before the load <#load>.
Serializing contexts
Serialization makes a software object /persistent/ by converting it into
a character stream, which is then saved to a file or string in memory.
In newLISP, anything referenced by a symbol can be serialized to a file
by using the save <#save> function. Like other symbols, contexts are
saved just by using their names:
(save "mycontext.lsp" 'MyCtx) ; save MyCtx to mycontext.lsp
(load "mycontext.lsp") ; loads MyCtx into memory
(save "mycontexts.lsp" 'Ctx1 'Ctx2 'Ctx3) ; save multiple contexts at once
For details, see the functions save <#save> (mentioned above) and source
<#source> (for serializing to a newLISP string).
( § )
16. The context default functor
A /default functor/ or /default function/ is a symbol or user-defined
function or macro with the same name as its namespace. When the context
is used as the name of a function or in the functor position of an
s-expression, newLISP executes the default function.
;; the default function
(define (Foo:Foo a b c) (+ a b c))
(Foo 1 2 3) → 6
If a default function is called from a context other than MAIN, the
context must already exist or be declared with a /forward declaration/,
which creates the context and the function symbol:
;; forward declaration of a default function
(define Fubar:Fubar)
(context 'Foo)
(define (Foo:Foo a b c)
(Fubar a b) ; forward reference
(…)) ; to default function
(context MAIN)
;; definition of previously declared default function
(context 'Fubar)
(define (Fubar:Fubar x y)
(context MAIN)
Default functions work like global functions, but they are lexically
separate from the context in which they are called.
Like a lambda or lambda-macro function, default functions can be used
with map <#map> or apply <#apply>.
Functions with memory
A default function can update the lexically isolated static variables
contained inside its namespace:
;; a function with memory
(define (Gen:Gen x)
(if Gen:acc
(inc Gen:acc x)
(setq Gen:acc x)))
(Gen 1) → 1
(Gen 1) → 2
(Gen 2) → 4
(Gen 3) → 7
gen:acc → 7
The first time the Gen function is called, its accumulator is set to the
value of the argument. Each successive call increments Gen's accumulator
by the argument's value.
The definition of Gen:Gen shows, how a function is put in its own
namespace without using the surrounding (context 'Gen) and (context
MAIN) statements. In that case only symbols qualified by the namespace
prefix will end up in the Gen context. In the above example the variable
x is still part of MAIN.
Hash functions and dictionaries
There are several functions that can be used to place symbols into
namespace contexts. When using dictionaries as simple hash-like
collections of variable → value pairs, use the uninitialized default
functor <#default_function>:
(define Myhash:Myhash) ; create namespace and default functor
; or as an alternative use
(new Tree 'MyHash) ; create from built-in template
Either method can be used to make the MyHash dictionary space and
default functor. Creating key-value pairs and retrieving a value is easy:
(Myhash "var" 123) ; create and set variable/value pair
(Myhash "var") ; → 123 ; retrieve value
Note that the /default functor/ should not be initialized to any value
other than nil. The default functor works like a dictionary hash
function creating the symbols in the string following it and setting it
to the value if specified.
Symbol variables created this way can contain spaces or other characters
normally not allowed in newLISP symbol names:
(define Foo:Foo)
(Foo "John Doe" 123) → 123
(Foo "#1234" "hello world") → "hello world"
(Foo "var" '(a b c d)) → (a b c d)
(Foo "John Doe") → 123
(Foo "#1234") → "hello world"
(Foo "var") → (a b c d)
An entry which doesn't exist will return nil:
(Foo "bar") → nil
Setting an entry to nil will effectively delete it from the namespace.
An association list can be generated from the contents of the namespace:
(Foo) → (("#1234" "hello world") ("John Doe" 123) ("var" (a b c d)))
Entries in the dictionary can also be created from a list:
(Foo '(("#1234" "hello world") ("John Doe" 123) ("var" (a b c d)))) → Foo
The list can also be used to iterate through the sorted key -> value pairs:
(dolist (item (Foo)) (println (item 0) " -> " (item 1)))
*#1234 -> hello world
John Doe -> 123
var -> (a b c d)*
Like many built-in functions hash expressions return a reference to
their content which can be modified directly:
(pop (Foo "var")) → a
(Foo "var") → (b c d)
(push 'z (Foo "var")) → (z b c d)
(Foo "var") → (z b c d)
When setting hash values the anaphoric system variable $it can be used
to refer to the old value when setting the new:
(Foo "bar" "hello world")
(Foo "bar" (upper-case $it))
(Foo "bar") → "HELLO WORLD"
Hash values also can be modified using setf <#setf>:
(Foo "bar" 123) → 123
(setf (Foo "bar") 456) → 456
(Foo "bar") → 456
But supplying the value as a second parameter to the hash functions is
shorter to write and faster.
Dictionaries can easily be saved to a file and reloaded later:
; save dictionary
(save "Foo.lsp" 'Foo)
; load dictionary
(load "Foo.lsp")
Internally the key strings are created and stored as symbols in the hash
context. All key strings are prepended with an _ underscore character.
This protects against overwriting the default symbol and symbols like
set and sym, which are needed when loading a hash namespace from disk or
over HTTP. Note the following difference:
(Foo) → (("#1234" "hello world") ("John Doe" 123) ("var" (a b c d)))
(symbols Foo) → (Foo:Foo Foo:_#1234 Foo:_John Doe Foo:_var)
In the first line hash symbols are shown as strings without without the
preceding underscore characters. The second line shows the internal form
of the symbols with prepended underscore characters.
For a more detailed introduction to /namespaces/, see the chapter on
Contexts <#contexts>.
Passing data by reference
A default functor <#default_function> can also be used to hold data. If
this data contains a list or string, the context name can be used as a
reference to the data:
;; the default functor for holding data
(define Mylist:Mylist '(a b c d e f g))
(Mylist 3) → d
(setf (Mylist 3) 'D) → D
Mylist:Mylist → (a b c D e f g)
;; access list or string data from a default functor
(first Mylist) → a
(reverse Mylist) → (g f e D c b a)
(set 'Str:Str "acdefghijklmnop")
(upper-case Str) → "ACDEFGHIJKLMNOP"
Most of the time, newLISP passes parameters by /value copy/. This poses
a potential problem when passing large lists or strings to user-defined
functions or macros. Strings and lists, which are packed in a namespace
using default functors, are passed automatically by reference:
;; use a default functor to hold a list
(set 'Mydb:Mydb (sequence 1 100000))
(define (change-db obj idx value)
(setf (obj idx) value))
; pass by context reference
(change-db Mydb 1234 "abcdefg")
(Mydb 1234) → "abcdefg"
Any argument of a built-in function calling for either a list or a
string — but no other data type — can receive data passed by reference.
Any user-defined function can take either normal variables, or can take
a context name for passing a reference to the default functor containing
a list or string.
Note that on lists with less than about 100 elements or strings of less
than about 50000 characters, the speed difference between reference and
value passing is negligible. But on bigger data objects, differences in
both speed and memory usage between reference and value passing can be
Built-in and user-defined functions are suitable for _both_ types of
arguments, but when passing context names, data will be passed by reference.
Quoted symbols can also be used to pass data by reference, but this
method has disadvantages:
(define (change-list aList) (push 999 (eval aList)))
(set 'data '(1 2 3 4 5))
; note the quote ' in front of data
(change-list 'data) → (999 1 2 3 4 5)
data → (999 1 2 3 4 5)
Although this method is simple to understand and use, it poses the
potential problem of /variable capture/ when passing the same symbol as
used as a function parameter:
;; pass data by symbol reference
> (set 'aList '(a b c d))
(a b c d)
> (change-list 'aList)
ERR: list or string expected : (eval aList)
called from user defined function change-list
At the beginning of the chapter it was shown how to package data in a
name-space using a default functor. Not only the default functor but any
symbol in context can be used to hold data. The disadvantage is that the
calling function must have knowledge about the symbol being used:
;; pass data by context reference
(set 'Mydb:data (sequence 1 100000))
(define (change-db obj idx value)
(setf (obj:data idx) value))
(change-db Mydb 1234 "abcdefg")
(nth (Mydb:data 1234)) → "abcdefg"
The function receives the namespace in the variable obj, but it must
have the knowledge that the list to access is contained in the data
symbol of that namespace (context).
( § )
17. Functional object-oriented programming
Any object-oriented programming (OOP) system built in newLISP is based
on the following four principles:
* Class attributes and methods are stored in the namespace of the
object class.
* The namespace default functor is used to hold the object
constructor method.
* An object is constructed using a list, the first element of which
is the context symbol describing the class of the object.
* Polymorphism is implemented using the : (colon) operator, which
selects the appropriate class from the object.
The following paragraphs are a short introduction to FOOP: Functional
Object-Oriented Programming as designed by /Michael Michaels/. This
description covers only very basic elements. For more details see the
Michael Michaels's FOOP training videos on
<> or <>.
FOOP classes and constructors
Class attributes and methods are stored in the namespace of the object
class. No object instance data is stored in this namespace/context. Data
variables in the class namespace only describe the class of objects as a
whole but don't contain any object specific information. A generic FOOP
object constructor can be used as a template for specific object
constructors when creating new object classes with new:
; built-in generic FOOP object constructor
(define (Class:Class)
(cons (context) (args)))
; create some new classes
(new Class 'Rectangle)
(new Class 'Circle)
The generic FOOP constructor is already built-in, and FOOP code can
start with (new Class ...) statements right away.
New classes can only be created in the MAIN context. If creating a new
class while in a different namespace, the new class name should be
prefixed with MAIN:
(context 'Geometry)
(new Class 'MAIN:Rectangle)
(new Class 'MAIN:Circle)
Creating the namespace classes using new <#new> reserves the class name
as a context in newLISP and facilitates forward references. At the same
time, a simple constructor is defined for the new class for
instantiating new objects. As a convention, it is recommended to start
class names in upper-case to signal that the name stands for a namespace.
In some cases, it may be useful to overwrite the simple constructor,
that was created during class creation, with new:
; overwrite simple constructor
(define (Circle:Circle x y radius)
(list Circle x y radius))
A constructor can also specify defaults:
; constructor with defaults
(define (Circle:Circle (x 10) (y 10) (radius 3))
(list Circle x y radius))
(Circle) → (Circle 10 10 3)
In many cases the constructor as created when using new is sufficient
and overwriting it is not necessary.
Objects and associations
FOOP represents objects as lists. The first element of the list
indicates the object's kind or class, while the remaining elements
contain the data. The following statements define two /objects/ using
any of the constructors defined previously:
(set 'myrect (Rectangle 5 5 10 20)) → (Rectangle 5 5 10 20)
(set 'mycircle (Circle 1 2 10)) → (Circle 1 2 10)
An object created is identical to the function necessary to create it.
Nested objects can be created in a similar manner:
; create classes
(new Class 'Person)
(new Class 'Address)
(new Class 'City)
(new Class 'Street)
; create an object containing other objects
(set 'JohnDoe (Person (Address (City "Boston") (Street 123 "Main Street"))))
→ (Person (Address (City "Boston") (Street 123 "Main Street")))
Objects in FOOP not only resemble functions they also resemble
associations. The assoc <#assoc> function can be used to access object
data by name:
(assoc Address JohnDoe) → (Address (City "Boston") (Street 123 "Main Street"))
(assoc (list Address Street) JohnDoe) → (Street 123 "Main Street")
In a similar manner setf <#setf> together with assoc <#assoc> can be
used to modify object data:
(setf (assoc (list Address Street) JohnDoe) '(Street 456 "Main Street"))
→ (Street 456 "Main Street")
The street number has been changed from 123 to 456.
Note that in none of the assoc statements Address and Street need to
carry quotes. The same is true in the set statement: (set 'JohnDoe
(Person ...)) for the data part assigned. In both cases we do not deal
with symbols or lists of symbols but rather with contexts and FOOP
objects which evaluate to themselves. Quoting would not make a difference.
The colon : operator and polymorphism
In newLISP, the colon character : is primarily used to connect the
context symbol with the symbol it is qualifying. Secondly, the colon
function is used in OOP to resolve a function's application
The following code defines two functions called area, each belonging to
a different namespace. Both functions could have been defined in
different modules, but in this case they are defined in the same file
and without bracketing context <#context> statements. Here, only the
symbols rectangle:area and circle:area belong to different namespaces.
The local parameters p, c, dx, and dy are all part of MAIN, but this is
of no concern.
;; class methods for rectangles
(define (Rectangle:area p)
(mul (p 3) (p 4)))
(define (Rectangle:move p dx dy)
(list Rectangle (add (p 1) dx) (add (p 2) dy) (p 3) (p 4)))
;; class methods for circles
(define (Circle:area c)
(mul (pow (c 3) 2) (acos 0) 2))
(define (Circle:move p dx dy)
(list Circle (add (p 1) dx) (add (p 2) dy) (p 3)))
By prefixing the area or move symbol with the : (colon), we can call
these functions for each class of object. Although there is no space
between the colon and the symbol following it, newLISP parses them as
distinct entities. The colon works as a function that processes parameters:
(:area myrect) → 200 ; same as (Rectangle:area myrect)
(:area mycircle) → 314.1592654 ; same as (Circle:area mycircle)
;; map class methods uses curry to enclose the colon operator and class function
(map (curry :area) (map eval '(myrect mycircle))) → (200 314.1592654)
(map (curry :area) '((Rectangle 5 5 10 20) (Circle 1 2 10))) → (200 314.1592654)
(set 'myrect (:move myrect 2 3)) → (Rectangle 7 8 10 20)
(set 'mycircle (:move mycircle 4 5)) → (Circle 5 7 10)
In this example, the correct qualified symbol (rectangle:area or
circle:area) is constructed and applied to the object data based on the
symbol following the colon and the context name (the first element of
the object list).
Note that moving the shapes is done in a /functional/ manner. Rather
than changing the x and y coordinates directly in myrect and mycircle,
newLISP constructs and then reassigns the moved shapes.
To write destructive functions using the colon operator, objects have to
passed in a default functor:
(new Class 'Foo)
(define (Foo:modify obj val) (setf (obj 1) val))
(define (Foo:show obj) (default obj))
(set 'MyFoo:MyFoo (Foo 123)) => (Foo 123)
(:modify MyFoo 999) => 999
(:show MyFoo) => (Foo 999)
( § )
18. Concurrent processing and distributed computing
newLISP has high-level APIs to control multiple processes on the same
CPU or distributed onto different computer nodes on a TCP/IP network.
Cilk API
newLISP implements a Cilk <>- like
API to launch and control concurrent processes. The API can take
advantage of multi-core computer architectures. Only three functions,
spawn <#spawn>, sync <#sync> and abort <#abort>, are necessary to start
multiple processes and collect the results in a synchronized fashion.
The underlying operating system distributes processes onto different
cores inside the CPU or executes them on the same core in parallel if
there are not enough cores present. Note that newLISP only implements
the API; optimized scheduling of spawned procedures is not performed as
in Cilk. Functions are started in the order they appear in spawn
statements and are distributed and scheduled onto different cores in the
CPU by the operating system.
When multiple cores are present, this can increase overall processing
speed by evaluating functions in parallel. But even when running on
single core CPUs, the Cilk API makes concurrent processing much easier
for the programmer and may speed up processing if subtasks include
waiting for I/O or sleeping.
Since version 10.1 send <#send> and receive <#receive> message functions
are available for communications between parent and child processes. The
functions can be used in blocking and non blocking communications and
can transfer any kind of newLISP data or expressions. Transmitted
expressions can be evaluated in the recipients environment.
Internally, newLISP uses the lower level fork <#fork>, wait-pid
<#wait-pid>, destroy <#destroy>, and share <#share> functionalities to
control processes and synchronize the passing of computed results via a
shared memory interface.
Only on Mac OS X and other Unixes will the Cilk API parallelize tasks.
On Win32, the API partly simulates the behavior on Unix but executes
tasks sequentially. This way, code can be written that runs on all
Distributed network computing
With only one function, net-eval <#net-eval>, newLISP implements
distributed computing. Using net-eval, different tasks can be mapped and
evaluated on different nodes running on a TCP/IP network or local domain
Unix sockets network when running on the same computer. net-eval does
all the housekeeping required to connect to remote nodes, transfer
functions to execute, and collect the results. net-eval can also use a
call-back function to further structure consolidation of incoming
results from remote nodes.
( § )
19. XML, S-XML, and XML-RPC
newLISP's built-in support for XML-encoded data or documents comprises
three functions: xml-parse <#xml-parse>, xml-type-tags <#xml-type-tags>,
and xml-error <#xml-error>.
Use the xml-parse <#xml-parse> function to parse XML-encoded strings.
When xml-parse encounters an error, nil is returned. To diagnose syntax
errors caused by incorrectly formatted XML, use the function xml-error
<#xml-error>. The xml-type-tags <#xml-type-tags> function can be used to
control or suppress the appearance of XML type tags. These tags classify
XML into one of four categories: text, raw string data, comments, and
element data.
*XML source:*
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<DATABASE name="example.xml">
<!--This is a database of fruits-->
*Parsing without options:*
(xml-parse (read-file "example.xml"))
→ (("ELEMENT" "DATABASE" (("name" "example.xml"))
(("TEXT" "\r\n")
"COMMENT" "This is a database of fruits")
("TEXT" "\r\n ")
(("TEXT" "\r\n\t ")
("ELEMENT" "NAME" () (("TEXT" "apple")))
("TEXT" "\r\n\t\t")
("ELEMENT" "COLOR" () (("TEXT" "red")))
("TEXT" "\r\n\t\t")
("ELEMENT" "PRICE" () (("TEXT" "0.80")))
("TEXT" "\r\n\t")))
("TEXT" "\r\n"))))
S-XML can be generated directly from XML using xml-type-tags
<#xml-type-tags> and the special option parameters of the xml-parse
<#xml-parse> function:
*S-XML generation using all options:*
(xml-type-tags nil nil nil nil)
(xml-parse (read-file "example.xml") (+ 1 2 4 8 16))
→ ((DATABASE (@ (name "example.xml"))
(FRUIT (NAME "apple")
(COLOR "red")
(PRICE "0.80"))))
S-XML is XML reformatted as newLISP /S-expressions/. The @ (at symbol)
denotes an XML attribute specification.
See xml-parse <#xml-parse> in the reference section of the manual for
details on parsing and option numbers, as well as for a longer example.
The remote procedure calling protocol XML-RPC uses HTTP post requests as
a transport and XML for the encoding of method names, parameters, and
parameter types. XML-RPC client libraries and servers have been
implemented for most popular compiled and scripting languages.
For more information about XML, visit
XML-RPC clients and servers are easy to write using newLISP's built-in
network and XML support. A stateless XML-RPC server implemented as a CGI
service can be found in the file examples/xmlrpc.cgi. This script can be
used together with a web server, like Apache. This XML-RPC service
script implements the following methods:
method description
system.listMethods Returns a list of all method names
system.methodHelp Returns help for a specific method
system.methodSignature Returns a list of return/calling signatures for
a specific method
newLISP.evalString Evaluates a Base64 newLISP expression string
The first three methods are /discovery/ methods implemented by most
XML-RPC servers. The last one is specific to the newLISP XML-RPC server
script and implements remote evaluation of a Base64-encoded string of
newLISP source code. newLISP's base64-enc <#base64-enc> and base64-dec
<#base64-dec> functions can be used to encode and decode Base64-encoded
In the modules directory of the source distribution, the file
xmlrpc-client.lsp implements a specific client interface for all of the
above methods.
(load "xmlrpc-client.lsp") ; load XML-RPC client routines
"(+ 3 4)") → "7"
In a similar fashion, standard calls can be issued.
All functions return either a result if successful, or nil if a request
fails. In case of failure, the expression (XMLRPC:error) can be
evaluated to return an error message.
For more information, please consult the header of the file
( § )
20. Customization, localization, and UTF-8
Customizing function names
All built-in primitives in newLISP can be easily renamed:
(constant 'plus +)
Now, plus is functionally equivalent to + and runs at the same speed. As
with many scripting languages, this allows for double precision floating
point arithmetic to be used throughout newLISP.
The constant <#constant> function, rather than the set function, must be
used to rename built-in primitive symbols. By default, all built-in
function symbols are protected against accidental overwriting.
(constant '+ add)
(constant '- sub)
(constant '* mul)
(constant '/ div)
All operations using +, -, *, and / are now performed as floating point
Using the same mechanism, the names of built-in functions can be
translated into languages other than English:
(constant 'wurzel sqrt) ; German for 'square-root'
; make the new symbol global at the same time
(constant (global 'imprime) print) ; Spanish for 'print'
The new symbol can be made global at the same time using global <#global>.
Switching the locale
newLISP can switch locales based on the platform and operating system.
On startup, newLISP attempts to set the ISO C standard default POSIX
locale, available for most platforms and locales. Use the set-locale
<#set-locale> function to switch to the default locale:
(set-locale "")
This switches to the default locale used on your platform/operating
system and ensures character handling (e.g., upper-case <#upper-case>)
works correctly.
Many Unix systems have a variety of locales available. To find out which
ones are available on a particular Linux/Unix/BSD system, execute the
following command in a system shell:
locale -a
This command prints a list of all the locales available on your system.
Any of these may be used as arguments to set-locale <#set-locale>:
(set-locale "es_US")
This would switch to a U.S. Spanish locale. Accents or other characters
used in a U.S. Spanish environment would be correctly converted.
See the manual description for more details on the usage of set-locale
Decimal point and decimal comma
Many countries use a comma instead of a period as a decimal separator in
numbers. newLISP correctly parses numbers depending on the locale set:
;; switch to German locale on a Linux system
(set-locale "de_DE") → ("de_DE" ",")
;; newLISP source and output use a decimal comma
(div 1,2 3) → 0,4
The default POSIX C locale, which is set when newLISP starts up, uses a
period as a decimal separator.
The following countries use a period as a decimal separator:
Australia, Botswana, Canada (English-speaking), China, Costa Rica,
Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong,
India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea (both North and South),
Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines,
Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, United
Kingdom, and United States
The following countries use a comma as a decimal separator:
Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia,
Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada (French-speaking), Croatia, Cuba, Chile,
Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Faroes,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Indonesia,
Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova,
Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania,
Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden,
Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe
Unicode and UTF-8 encoding
Note that for many European languages, the set-locale <#set-locale>
mechanism is sufficient to display non-ASCII character sets, as long as
each character is presented as /one/ byte internally. UTF-8 encoding is
only necessary for multi-byte character sets as described in this chapter.
newLISP can be compiled as a UTF-8–enabled application. UTF-8 is a
multi-byte encoding of the international Unicode character set. A
UTF-8–enabled newLISP running on an operating system with UTF-8 enabled
can handle any character of the installed locale.
The following steps make UTF-8 work with newLISP on a specific operating
system and platform:
(1) Use one of the makefiles ending in utf8 to compile newLISP as a
UTF-8 application. If no UTF-8 makefile is available for your platform,
the normal makefile for your operating system contains instructions on
how to change it for UTF-8.
The Mac OS X binary installer contains a UTF-8–enabled version by default.
(2) Enable the UTF-8 locale on your operating system. Check and set a
UTF-8 locale on Unix and Unix-like OSes by using the locale command or
the set-locale function within newLISP. On Linux, the locale can be
changed by setting the appropriate environment variable. The following
example uses bash to set the U.S. locale:
export LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8
(3) The UTF-8–enabled newLISP automatically switches to the locale found
on the operating system. Make sure the command shell is UTF-8–enabled.
When using the Tcl/Tk front-end on Linux/Unix, Tcl/Tk will automatically
switch to UTF-8 display as long as the Unix environment variable is set
correctly. The U.S. version of WinXP's notepad.exe can display Unicode
UTF-8–encoded characters, but the command shell and the Tcl/Tk front-end
cannot. On Linux and other Unixes, the Xterm shell can be used when
started as follows:
LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8 xterm
The following procedure can now be used to check for UTF-8 support.
After starting newLISP, type:
(println (char 937)) ; displays Greek uppercase omega
(println (lower-case (char 937))) ; displays lowercase omega
While the uppercase omega (Ω) looks like a big O on two tiny legs, the
lowercase omega (ω) has a shape similar to a small w in the Latin alphabet.
Note: Only the output of println will be displayed as a character;
println's return value will appear on the console as a multi-byte ASCII
When UTF-8–enabled newLISP is used on a non-UTF-8–enabled display, both
the output and the return value will be two characters. These are the
two bytes necessary to encode the omega character.
Functions working on UTF-8 characters
When UTF-8–enabled newLISP is used, the following string functions work
on one- or multi-byte characters rather than one 8-bit byte boundaries:
function description
char <#char> translates between characters and ASCII/Unicode
chop <#chop> chops characters from the end of a string
date <#date> converts date number to string (when used with the third argument)
dostring <#dostring> evaluates once for each character in a string
explode <#explode> transforms a string into a list of characters
first <#first> gets first element in a list (car, head) or string
last <#last> returns the last element of a list or string
lower-case <#lower-case> converts a string to lowercase characters
nth <#nth> gets the /nth/ element of a list or string
pop <#pop> deletes an element from a list or string
push <#push> inserts a new element in a list or string
rest <#rest> gets all but the first element of a list (cdr, tail) or string
select <#select> selects and permutes elements from a list or string
title-case <#title-case> converts the first character of a string to uppercase
trim <#trim> trims a string from both sides
upper-case <#upper-case> converts a string to uppercase characters
All other string functions work on 8-bit bytes. When positions are
returned, as in find <#find> or regex <#regex>, they are single 8-bit
byte positions rather than character positions which may be multi-byte.
The get-char <#get-char> and slice <#slice> functions do not take
multi-byte character offsets, but single-byte offsets, even in UTF-8
enabled versions of newLISP. The reverse <#reverse> function reverses a
byte vector, not a character vector. The last three functions can still
be used to manipulate binary non-textual data in the UTF-8–enabled
version of newLISP.
To enable UTF-8 in Perl Compatible Regular Expressions (PCRE) — used by
directory <#directory>, find <#find>, member <#member>, parse <#parse>,
regex <#regex>, regex-comp <#regex-comp> and replace <#replace> — set
the option number accordingly (2048). Note that offset and lengths in
regex <#regex> results are always in single byte counts. See the regex
<#regex> documentation for details.
Use explode <#explode> to obtain an array of UTF-8 characters and to
manipulate characters rather than bytes when a UTF-8–enabled function is
(join (reverse (explode str))) ; reverse UTF-8 characters
The above string functions (often used to manipulate non-textual binary
data) now work on character, rather than byte, boundaries, so care must
be exercised when using the UTF-8–enabled version. The size of the first
127 ASCII characters — along with the characters in popular code pages
such as ISO 8859 — is one byte long. When working exclusively within
these code pages, UTF-8–enabled newLISP is not required. The set-locale
<#set-locale> function alone is sufficient for localized behavior.
Two functions are available for converting between four-byte Unicode
(UCS-4) and multi-byte UTF-8 code. The UTF-8 <#utf8> function converts
UCS-4 to UTF-8, and the unicode <#unicode> function converts UTF-8 or
ASCII strings into USC-4 Unicode.
These functions are rarely used in practice, as most Unicode text files
are already UTF-8–encoded (rather than UCS-4, which uses four-byte
integer characters). Unicode can be displayed directly when using the
"%ls" format <#format> specifier.
For further details on UTF-8 and Unicode, consult /UTF-8 and Unicode FAQ
for Unix/Linux/ <> by /Markus
( § )
21. Commas in parameter lists
Some of the example programs contain functions that use a comma to
separate the parameters into two groups. This is not a special syntax of
newLISP, but rather a visual trick. The comma is a symbol just like any
other symbol. The parameters after the comma are not required when
calling the function; they simply declare local variables in a
convenient way. This is possible in newLISP because parameter variables
in lambda expressions are local and arguments are optional:
(define (my-func a b c , x y z)
(set 'x …)
When calling this function, only a, b, and c are used as parameters. The
others (x, y, and z) are initialized to nil and are local to the
function. After execution, the function's contents are forgotten and the
environment's symbols are restored to their previous values.
For other ways of declaring and initializing local variables, see let
<#let>, letex <#letex>, letn <#letn> and local <#local>.
( § )
22. Linking newLISP source and executable
Source code and the newLISP executable can be linked together to build a
self-contained application by using link.lsp. This program is located in
the newlisp/util directory of the distributions. As an example, the
following code is linked to the newLISP executable to form a simple,
self-contained application:
;; uppercase.lsp - Link example
(println (upper-case (main-args 1)))
This program, which resides in the file uppercase.lsp, takes the first
word on the command-line and converts it to uppercase.
To build this program as a self-contained executable, follow these four
(1) Put the following files into the same directory: (a) a copy of the
newLISP executable; (b) newlisp (or newlisp.exe on Win32); (c) link.lsp;
and (d) the program to link with (uppercase.lsp in this example).
(2) In a shell, go to the directory referred to in step 1 and load link.lsp:
newlisp link.lsp
(3) In the newLISP shell, type one of the following:
(link "newlisp.exe" "uppercase.exe" "uppercase.lsp") ; Win32
(link "newlisp" "uppercase" "uppercase.lsp") ; Linux/BSD
(4) Exit the newLISP shell and type:
uppercase "convert me to uppercase"
The console should print:
Note: On Linux/BSD, the new file must be marked executable for the
operating system to recognize it:
chmod 755 uppercase
This gives the file executable permission (this step is unnecessary on
Note that neither one of the initialization files init.lsp nor .init.lsp
is loaded during startup of linked programs.
( ∂ )
newLISP Function Reference
1. Syntax of symbol variables and numbers
Source code in newLISP is parsed according to the rules outlined here.
When in doubt, verify the behavior of newLISP's internal parser by
calling parse <#parse> without optional arguments.
Symbols for variable names
The following rules apply to the naming of symbols used as variables or
1. Variable symbols may not start with any of the following
# ; " ' ( ) { } . , 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
2. Variable symbols starting with a + or - cannot have a number
as the second character.
3. Any character is allowed inside a variable name, except for:
\" ' ( ) : , and the space character. These mark the end of a
variable symbol.
4. A symbol name starting with [ (left square bracket) and ending
with ] (right square bracket) may contain any character except
the right square bracket.
All of the following symbols are legal variable names in newLISP:
[* 7 5 ()};]
Sometimes it is useful to create hash-like lookup dictionaries <#hash>
with keys containing characters that are illegal in newLISP variables.
The functions sym <#sym> and context <#context> can be used to create
symbols containing these characters:
(set (sym "(#:L*") 456) → 456
(eval (sym "(#:L*")) → 456
(set (sym 1) 123) → 123
(eval (sym 1)) → 123
1 → 1
(+ 1 2) → 3
The last example creates the symbol 1 containing the value 123. Also
note that creating such a symbol does not alter newLISP's normal
operations, since 1 is still parsed as the number one.
newLISP recognizes the following number formats:
*Integers* are one or more digits long, optionally preceded by a + or -
sign. Any other character marks the end of the integer or may be part of
the sequence if parsed as a float (see float syntax below).
*Hexadecimals* start with a 0x (or 0X), followed by any combination of
the hexadecimal digits: 0123456789abcdefABCDEF. Any other character ends
the hexadecimal number.
0xFF → 255
0x10ab → 4267
0X10CC → 4300
*Octals* start with an optional + (plus) or - (minus) sign and a 0
(zero), followed by any combination of the octal digits: 01234567. Any
other character ends the octal number.
012 → 10
010 → 8
077 → 63
-077 → -63
*Floating point* numbers can start with an optional + (plus) or -
(minus) sign, but they cannot be followed by a 0 (zero); this would make
them octal numbers instead of floating points. A single . (decimal
point) can appear anywhere within a floating point number, including at
the beginning.
1.23 → 1.23
-1.23 → -1.23
+2.3456 → 2.3456
.506 → 0.506
As described above, *scientific notation* starts with a floating point
number called the /significand/ (or /mantissa/), followed by the letter
e or E and an integer /exponent/.
1.23e3 → 1230
-1.23E3 → -1230
+2.34e-2 → 0.0234
.506E3 → 506
( § )
2. Data types and names in the reference
To describe the types and names of a function's parameters, the
following naming convention is used throughout the reference section:
*syntax: (format /str-format/ /exp-data-1/ [/exp-data-i/ ... ])*
Arguments are represented by symbols formed by the argument's type and
name, separated by a - (hyphen). Here, /str-format/ (a string) and
/exp-data-1/ (an expression) are named "format" and "data-1", respectively.
Arguments enclosed in brackets [ and ] are optional. When arguments are
separated by a vertical | then one of them must be chosen.
An array (constructed with the array <#array> function).
One or more expressions for evaluation. The expressions are evaluated
sequentially if there is more than one.
1 7.8
(+ 3 4)
"Hi" (+ a b)(print result)
(do-this)(do-that) 123
true, nil, or an expression evaluating to one of these two.
true, nil, (<= X 10)
An expression evaluating to a context (namespace) or a variable symbol
holding a context.
MyContext, aCtx, TheCTX
Any datatype described in this chapter.
A symbol or an expression evaluating to an operator symbol or lambda
+, add, (first '(add sub)), (lambda (x) (+ x x))
An integer or an expression evaluating to an integer. Generally, if a
floating point number is used when an int is expected, the value is
truncated to an integer.
123, 5, (* X 5)
A list of elements (any type) or an expression evaluating to a list.
(a b c "hello" (+ 3 4))
An integer, a floating point number, or an expression evaluating to one
of these two. If an integer is passed, it is converted to a floating
point number.
1.234, (div 10 3), (sin 1)
A list in which each row element is itself a list or an array in which
each row element is itself an array. All element lists or arrays (rows)
are of the same length. When using det <#det>, multiply <#multiply>, or
invert <#invert>, all numbers must be floats or integers.
The dimensions of a matrix are defined by indicating the number of rows
and the number of column elements per row. Functions working on matrices
ignore superfluous columns in a row. For missing row elements, 0.0 is
assumed by the functions det <#det>, multiply <#multiply>, and invert
<#invert>, while transpose <#transpose> assumes nil. Special rules apply
for transpose <#transpose> when a whole row is not a list or an array,
but some other data type.
((1 2 3 4)
(5 6 7 8)
(9 10 11 12)) ; 3 rows 4 columns
((1 2) (3 4) (5 6)) ; 3 rows 2 columns
A place referenced a symbol or a place defined in list, array or string
by indexing into it via nth <#nth> or implicit indexing <#indexing>.
A string or an expression that evaluates to a string.
"Hello", (append first-name " Miller")
Special characters can be included in quoted strings by placing a \
(backslash) before the character or digits to escape them:
character description
\n the line-feed character (ASCII 10)
\r the carriage return character (ASCII 13)
\t the tab character (ASCII 9)
\nnn a decimal ASCII code where nnn is between 000 and 255
\xnn a hexadecimal code where nn is between 00 and FF
Instead of a \" (double quote), a { (left curly bracket) and } (right
curly bracket) can be used to delimit strings. This is useful when
quotation marks need to occur inside strings. Quoting with the curly
brackets suppresses the backslash escape effect for special characters.
Balanced nested curly brackets may be used within a string. This aids in
writing regular expressions or short sections of HTML.
(print "<A HREF=\"\">" ) ; the cryptic way
(print {<A HREF="">} ) ; the readable way
;; also possible because the inner brackets are balanced
(regex {abc{1,2}} line)
(print [text]
this could be
a very long (> 2048 characters) text,
i.e. HTML.
The tags [text] and [/text] can be used to delimit long strings and
suppress escape character translation. This is useful for delimiting
long HTML passages in CGI files written in newLISP or for situations
where character translation should be completely suppressed. Always use
the [text] tags for strings longer than 2048 characters.
A symbol or expression evaluating to a symbol.
'xyz, (first '(+ - /)), '*, '- , someSymbol,
Most of the context symbols in this manual start with an uppercase
letter to distinguish them from other symbols.
A symbol, an existing context, or an expression evaluating to a symbol
from which a context will be created. If a context does not already
exist, many functions implicitly create them (e.g., bayes-train
<#bayes-train>, context <#context>, eval-string <#eval-string>, load
<#load>, sym <#sym>, and xml-parse <#xml-parse>). The context must be
specified when these functions are used on an existing context. Even if
a context already exists, some functions may continue to take quoted
symbols (e.g., context <#context>). For other functions, such as
context? <#contextp>, the distinction is critical.
( § )
3. Functions in groups
Some functions appear in more than one group.
List processing, flow control, and integer arithmetic
+, -, *, /, % <#arithmetic> integer arithmetic
<, >, = <#logical> compares any data type: less, greater, equal
<=, >=, != <#logical> compares any data type: less-equal, greater-equal, not-equal
: <#colon> constructs a context symbol and applies it to an object
and <#and> logical and
append <#append> appends lists ,arrays or strings to form a new list, array or string
apply <#apply> applies a function or primitive to a list of arguments
args <#args> retrieves the argument list of a function or macro expression
assoc <#assoc> searches for keyword associations in a list
begin <#begin> begins a block of functions
bind <#bind> binds variable associations in a list
case <#case> branches depending on contents of control variable
catch <#catch> evaluates an expression, possibly catching errors
chop <#chop> chops elements from the end of a list
clean <#clean> cleans elements from a list
cond <#cond> branches conditionally to expressions
cons <#cons> prepends an element to a list, making a new list
constant <#constant> defines a constant symbol
count <#count> counts elements of one list that occur in another list
curry <#curry> transforms a function f(x, y) into a function fx(y)
define <#define> defines a new function or lambda expression
define-macro <#define-macro> defines a macro or lambda-macro expression
def-new <#def-new> copies a symbol to a different context (namespace)
difference <#difference> returns the difference between two lists
doargs <#doargs> iterates through the arguments of a function
dolist <#dolist> evaluates once for each element in a list
dostring <#dostring> evaluates once for each character in a string
dotimes <#dotimes> evaluates once for each number in a range
dotree <#dotree> iterates through the symbols of a context
do-until <#do-until> repeats evaluation of an expression until the condition is met
do-while <#do-while> repeats evaluation of an expression while the condition is true
dup <#dup> duplicates a list or string a specified number of times
ends-with <#ends-with> checks the end of a string or list against a key of the same type
eval <#eval> evaluates an expression
exists <#exists> checks for the existence of a condition in a list
expand <#expand> replaces a symbol in a nested list
first <#first> gets the first element of a list or string
filter <#filter> filters a list
find <#find> searches for an element in a list or string
flat <#flat> returns the flattened list
fn <#define> defines a new function or lambda expression
for <#for> evaluates once for each number in a range
for-all <#for-all> checks if all elements in a list meet a condition
if <#if> evaluates an expression conditionally
index <#index> filters elements from a list and returns their indices
intersect <#intersect> returns the intersection of two lists
lambda <#define> defines a new function or lambda expression
last <#last> returns the last element of a list or string
length <#length> calculates the length of a list or string
let <#let> declares and initializes local variables
letex <#letex> expands local variables into an expression, then evaluates
letn <#letn> initializes local variables incrementally, like /nested lets/
list <#list> makes a list
local <#local> declares local variables
lookup <#lookup> looks up members in an association list
map <#map> maps a function over members of a list, collecting the results
match <#match> matches patterns against lists; for matching against strings, see find <#find> and regex <#regex>
member <#member> finds a member of a list or string
name <#name> returns the name of a symbol or its context as a string
not <#not> logical not
nth <#nth> gets the /nth/ element of a list or string
or <#or> logical or
pop <#pop> deletes and returns an element from a list or string
push <#push> inserts a new element into a list or string
quote <#quote> quotes an expression
ref <#ref> returns the position of an element inside a nested list
ref-all <#ref-all> returns a list of index vectors of element inside a nested list
rest <#rest> returns all but the first element of a list or string
replace <#replace> replaces elements inside a list or string
reverse <#reverse> reverses a list or string
rotate <#rotate> rotates a list or string
select <#select> selects and permutes elements from a list or string
set <#set> sets the binding or contents of a symbol
setf setq <#setf> sets contents of a symbol or list, array or
string reference
set-ref <#set-ref> searches for an element in a nested list and replaces it
set-ref-all <#set-ref-all> searches for an element in a nested list and replaces all instances
silent <#silent> works like begin <#begin> but suppresses console output of the return value
slice <#slice> extracts a sublist or substring
sort <#sort> sorts the members of a list
starts-with <#starts-with> checks the beginning of a string or list against a key of the same type
swap <#swap> swaps two elements inside a list or string
unify <#unify> unifies two expressions
unique <#unique> returns a list without duplicates
unless <#unless> evaluates an expression conditionally
until <#until> repeats evaluation of an expression until the condition is met
when <#when> evaluates a block of statements conditionally
while <#while> repeats evaluation of an expression while the condition is true
String and conversion functions
address <#address> gets the memory address of a number or string
append <#append> appends lists, arrays or strings to form a new list, array or string
bits <#bits> translates a number into binary representation
char <#char> translates between characters and ASCII codes
chop <#chop> chops off characters from the end of a string
dostring <#dostring> evaluates once for each character in a string
dup <#dup> duplicates a list or string a specified number of times
ends-with <#ends-with> checks the end of a string or list against a key of the same type
encrypt <#encrypt> does a one-time–pad encryption and decryption of a string
eval-string <#eval-string> compiles, then evaluates a string
explode <#explode> transforms a string into a list of characters
find <#find> searches for an element in a list or string
find-all <#find-all> returns a list of all pattern matches found in string
first <#first> gets the first element in a list or string
float <#float> translates a string or integer into a floating point number
format <#format> formats numbers and strings as in the C language
get-char <#get-char> gets a character from a memory address
get-float <#get-float> gets a double float from a memory address
get-int <#get-int> gets a 32-bit integer from a memory address
get-long <#get-long> gets a long 64-bit integer from a memory address
get-string <#get-string> gets a string from a memory address
int <#int> translates a string or float into an integer
join <#join> joins a list of strings
last <#last> returns the last element of a list or string
lower-case <#lower-case> converts a string to lowercase characters
member <#member> finds a list or string member
name <#name> returns the name of a symbol or its context as a string
nth <#nth> gets the /nth/ element in a list or string
pack <#pack> packs newLISP expressions into a binary structure
parse <#parse> breaks a string into tokens
pop <#pop> pops from a string
push <#push> pushes onto a string
regex <#regex> performs a Perl-compatible regular expression search
regex-comp <#regex-comp> pre-compiles a regular expression pattern
replace <#replace> replaces elements in a list or string
rest <#rest> gets all but the first element of a list or string
reverse <#reverse> reverses a list or string
rotate <#rotate> rotates a list or string
select <#select> selects and permutes elements from a list or string
setf setq <#setf> sets contents of a string reference
slice <#slice> extracts a substring or sublist
source <#source> returns the source required to bind a symbol as a string
starts-with <#starts-with> checks the start of the string or list against a key string or list
string <#string> transforms anything into a string
sym <#sym> translates a string into a symbol
title-case <#title-case> converts the first character of a string to uppercase
trim <#trim> trims a string on one or both sides
unicode <#unicode> converts ASCII or UTF-8 to UCS-4 Unicode
utf8 <#utf8> converts UCS-4 Unicode to UTF-8
utf8len <#utf8len> returns length of an UTF-8 string in UTF-8 characters
unpack <#unpack> unpacks a binary structure into newLISP expressions
upper-case <#upper-case> converts a string to uppercase characters
Floating point math and special functions
abs <#abs> returns the absolute value of a number
acos <#acos> calculates the arc-cosine of a number
acosh <#acosh> calculates the inverse hyperbolic cosine of a number
add <#add> adds floating point or integer numbers and returns a floating point number
array <#array> creates an array
array-list <#array-list> returns a list conversion from an array
asin <#asin> calculates the arcsine of a number
asinh <#asinh> calculates the inverse hyperbolic sine of a number
atan <#atan> calculates the arctangent of a number
atanh <#atanh> calculates the inverse hyperbolic tangent of a number
atan2 <#atan2> computes the principal value of the arctangent of Y / X in radians
beta <#beta> calculates the beta function
betai <#betai> calculates the incomplete beta function
binomial <#binomial> calculates the binomial function
ceil <#ceil> rounds up to the next integer
cos <#cos> calculates the cosine of a number
cosh <#cosh> calculates the hyperbolic cosine of a number
crc32 <#crc32> calculates a 32-bit CRC for a data buffer
crit-chi2 <#crit-chi2> calculates the Chi² for a given probability
crit-z <#crit-z> calculates the normal distributed Z for a given probability
dec <#dec> decrements a number in a variable, list or array
div <#div> divides floating point or integer numbers
erf <#erf> calculates the error function of a number
exp <#exp> calculates the exponential /e/ of a number
factor <#factor> factors a number into primes
fft <#fft> performs a fast Fourier transform (FFT)
floor <#floor> rounds down to the next integer
flt <#flt> converts a number to a 32-bit integer representing a float
gammai <#gammai> calculates the incomplete Gamma function
gammaln <#gammaln> calculates the log Gamma function
gcd <#gcd> calculates the greatest common divisor of a group of integers
ifft <#ifft> performs an inverse fast Fourier transform (IFFT)
inc <#inc> increments a number in a variable, list or array
inf? <#infp> checks if a floating point value is infinite
log <#log> calculates the natural or other logarithm of a number
min <#min> finds the smallest value in a series of values
max <#max> finds the largest value in a series of values
mod <#mod> calculates the modulo of two numbers
mul <#mul> multiplies floating point or integer numbers
NaN? <#NaNp> checks if a float is NaN (not a number)
round <#round> rounds a number
pow <#pow> calculates /x/ to the power of /y/
sequence <#sequence> generates a list sequence of numbers
series <#series> creates a geometric sequence of numbers
sgn <#sgn> calculates the signum function of a number
sin <#sin> calculates the sine of a number
sinh <#sinh> calculates the hyperbolic sine of a number
sqrt <#sqrt> calculates the square root of a number
sub <#sub> subtracts floating point or integer numbers
tanh <#tanh> calculates the hyperbolic tangent of a number
uuid <#uuid> returns a UUID (Universal Unique IDentifier)
Matrix functions
det <#det> returns the determinant of a matrix
invert <#invert> returns the inversion of a matrix
mat <#mat> performs scalar operations on matrices
multiply <#multiply> multiplies two matrices
transpose <#transpose> returns the transposition of a matrix
Array functions
append <#append> appends arrays
array <#array> creates and initializes an array with up to 16 dimensions
array-list <#array-list> converts an array into a list
array? <#arrayp> checks if expression is an array
det <#det> returns the determinant of a matrix
first <#first> returns the first row of an array
invert <#invert> returns the inversion of a matrix
last <#last> returns the last row of an array
mat <#mat> performs scalar operations on matrices
multiply <#multiply> multiplies two matrices
nth <#nth> returns an element of an array
rest <#rest> returns all but the first row of an array
setf <#setf> sets contents of an array reference
slice <#slice> returns a slice of an array
transpose <#transpose> transposes a matrix
Bit operators
<<, >> <#bit_shift> bit shift left, bit shift right
& <#bit_and> bitwise and
| <#bit_inclusive> bitwise inclusive or
^ <#bit_exclusive> bitwise exclusive or
~ <#bit_not> bitwise not
atom? <#atomp> checks if an expression is an atom
array? <#arrayp> checks if an expression is an array
context? <#contextp> checks if an expression is a context
directory? <#directoryp> checks if a disk node is a directory
empty? <#emptyp> checks if a list or string is empty
file? <#filep> checks if a file exists
float? <#floatp> checks if an expression is a float
global? <#globalp> checks if a symbol is global
inf? <#infp> checks if a floating point value is infinite
integer? <#integerp> checks if an expression is an integer
lambda? <#lambdap> checks if an expression is a lambda expression
legal? <#legalp> checks if a string contains a legal symbol
list? <#listp> checks if an expression is a list
macro? <#macrop> checks if an expression is a lambda-macro expression
NaN? <#NaNp> checks if a float is NaN (not a number)
nil? <#nilp> checks if an expression is nil
null? <#nullp> checks if an expression is nil, "", () or 0
number? <#numberp> checks if an expression is a float or an integer
protected? <#protectedp> checks if a symbol is protected
primitive? <#primitivep> checks if an expression is a primitive
quote? <#quotep> checks if an expression is quoted
string? <#stringp> checks if an expression is a string
symbol? <#symbolp> checks if an expression is a symbol
true? <#truep> checks if an expression is not nil
zero? <#zerop> checks if an expression is 0 or 0.0
Time and date functions
date <#date> converts a date-time value to a string
date-value <#date-value> calculates the time in seconds since
January 1, 1970 for a date and time
parse-date <#parse-date> parses a date string and returns the
number of seconds passed since January 1, 1900
now <#now> returns a list of current date-time information
time <#time> calculates the time it takes to evaluate an expression
in milliseconds
time-of-day <#time-of-day> calculates the number of milliseconds
elapsed since the day started
Simulation and modeling functions
amb <#amb> randomly selects an argument and evaluates it
bayes-query <#bayes-query> calculates Bayesian probabilities for a data set
bayes-train <#bayes-train> counts items in lists for Bayesian or frequency analysis
normal <#normal> makes a list of normal distributed floating point numbers
prob-chi2 <#prob-chi2> calculates the cumulated probability of Chi²
prob-z <#prob-z> calculates the cumulated probability of a Z-value
rand <#rand> generates random numbers in a range
random <#random> generates a list of evenly distributed floats
randomize <#randomize> shuffles all of the elements in a list
seed <#seed> seeds the internal random number generator
Pattern matching
ends-with <#ends-with> tests if a list or string ends with a pattern
find <#find> searches for a pattern in a list or string
find-all <#find-all> finds all occurrences of a pattern in a string
match <#match> matches list patterns
parse <#parse> breaks a string along around patterns
regex <#regex> finds patterns in a string
replace <#replace> replaces patterns in a string
search <#search> searches for a pattern in a file
starts-with <#starts-with> tests if a list or string starts with a pattern
unify <#unify> performs a logical unification of patterns
Financial math functions
fv <#fv> returns the future value of an investment
irr <#irr> calculates the internal rate of return
nper <#nper> calculates the number of periods for an investment
npv <#npv> calculates the net present value of an investment
pv <#pv> calculates the present value of an investment
pmt <#pmt> calculates the payment for a loan
Input/output and file operations
append-file <#append-file> appends data to a file
close <#close> closes a file
current-line <#current-line> retrieves contents of last read-line buffer
device <#device> sets or inquires about current print device
exec <#exec> launches another program, then reads from or writes to it
load <#load> loads and evaluates a file of newLISP code
open <#open> opens a file for reading or writing
peek <#peek> checks file descriptor for number of bytes ready for reading
print <#print> prints to the console or a device
println <#println> prints to the console or a device with a line-feed
read-buffer <#read-buffer> reads binary data from a file
read-char <#read-char> reads an 8-bit character from a file
read-file <#read-file> reads a whole file in one operation
read-key <#read-key> reads a keyboard key
read-line <#read-line> reads a line from the console or file
read-utf8 <#read-utf8> reads UTF-8 character from a file
save <#save> saves a workspace, context, or symbol to a file
search <#search> searches a file for a string
seek <#seek> sets or reads a file position
write-buffer <#write-buffer> writes binary data to a file or string
write-char <#write-char> writes a character to a file
write-file <#write-file> writes a file in one operation
write-line <#write-line> writes a line to the console or a file
Processes and the Cilk API
! <#shell> shells out to the operating system
abort <#abort> aborts a child process started with spawn
destroy <#destroy> destroys a process created with fork or process
exec <#exec> runs a process, then reads from or writes to it
fork <#fork> launches a newLISP child process
pipe <#pipe> creates a pipe for interprocess communication
process <#process> launches a child process, remapping standard I/O and standard error
receive <#receive> receive a message from another process
semaphore <#semaphore> creates and controls semaphores
send <#send> send a message to another process
share <#share> shares memory with other processes
spawn <#spawn> launches a child process for Cilk process management
sync <#sync> waits for child processes launched with spawn and collects results
wait-pid <#wait-pid> waits for a child process to end
File and directory management
change-dir <#change-dir> changes to a different drive and directory
copy-file <#copy-file> copies a file
delete-file <#delete-file> deletes a file
directory <#directory> returns a list of directory entries
file-info <#file-info> gets file size, date, time, and attributes
make-dir <#make-dir> makes a new directory
real-path <#real-path> returns the full path of the relative file path
remove-dir <#remove-dir> removes an empty directory
rename-file <#rename-file> renames a file or directory
HTTP networking API
base64-enc <#base64-enc> encodes a string into BASE64 format
base64-dec <#base64-dec> decodes a string from BASE64 format
delete-url <#delete-url> deletes a file or page from the web
get-url <#get-url> reads a file or page from the web
post-url <#post-url> posts info to a URL address
put-url <#put-url> uploads a page to a URL address
xfer-event <#xfer-event> registers an event handler for HTTP byte transfers
xml-error <#xml-error> returns last XML parse error
xml-parse <#xml-parse> parses an XML document
xml-type-tags <#xml-type-tags> shows or modifies XML type tags
Socket TCP/IP and UDP network API
net-accept <#net-accept> accepts a new incoming connection
net-close <#net-close> closes a socket connection
net-connect <#net-connect> connects to a remote host
net-error <#net-error> returns the last error
net-eval <#net-eval> evaluates expressions on multiple remote newLISP servers
net-eval <#net-interface> Sets the default interface IP address on multihoned computers.
net-listen <#net-listen> listens for connections to a local socket
net-local <#net-local> returns the local IP and port number for a connection
net-lookup <#net-lookup> returns the name for an IP number
net-peer <#net-peer> returns the remote IP and port for a net connect
net-peek <#net-peek> returns the number of characters ready to be read from a network socket
net-ping <#net-ping> sends a ping packet (ICMP echo request) to one or more addresses
net-receive <#net-receive> reads data on a socket connection
net-receive-from <#net-receive-from> reads a UDP on an open connection
net-receive-udp <#net-receive-udp> reads a UDP and closes the connection
net-select <#net-select> checks a socket or list of sockets for status
net-send <#net-send> sends data on a socket connection
net-send-to <#net-send-to> sends a UDP on an open connection
net-send-udp <#net-send-udp> sends a UDP and closes the connection
net-service <#net-service> translates a service name into a port number
net-sessions <#net-sessions> returns a list of currently open connections
Reflection and customization
command-event <#command-event> pre-processes the command-line and HTTP requests
pretty-print <#pretty-print> changes the pretty-printing characteristics
prompt-event <#prompt-event> customizes the interactive newLISP shell prompt
read-expr <#read-expr> reads and optionally translates s-expressions from source
source <#source> returns the source required to bind a symbol to a string
System functions
$ <#systemsymbol> accesses system variables $0 -> $15
catch <#catch> evaluates an expression, catching errors and early returns
context <#context> creates or switches to a different namespace
copy <#copy> copies the result of an evaluation
debug <#debug> debugs a user-defined function
delete <#delete> deletes symbols from the symbol table
default <#default> returns the contents of a default functor from a context
env <#env> gets or sets the operating system's environment
error-event <#error-event> defines an error handler
exit <#exit> exits newLISP, setting the exit value
global <#global> makes a symbol accessible outside MAIN
import <#import> imports a function from a shared library
last-error <#last-error> report the last error number and text
main-args <#main-args> gets command-line arguments
new <#new> creates a copy of a context
ostype <#ostype> contains a string describing the OS platform
pretty-print <#pretty-print> changes the pretty-printing characteristics
reset <#reset> goes to the top level
set-locale <#set-locale> switches to a different locale
signal <#signal> sets a signal handler
sleep <#sleep> suspends processing for specified milliseconds
symbols <#symbols> returns a list of all symbols in the system
sys-error <#sys-error> reports OS system error numbers
sys-info <#sys-info> gives information about system resources
throw <#throw> causes a previous catch <#catch> to return
throw-error <#throw-error> throws a user-defined error
timer <#timer> starts a one-shot timer, firing an event
trace <#trace> sets or inquires about trace mode
trace-highlight <#trace-highlight> sets highlighting strings in trace mode
Importing libraries
address <#address> returns the memory address of a number or string
flt <#flt> converts a number to a 32-bit integer representing a float
float <#float> translates a string or integer into a floating point number
get-char <#get-char> gets a character from a memory address
get-float <#get-float> gets a double float from a memory address
get-int <#get-int> gets a 32-bit integer from a memory address
get-long <#get-long> gets a long 64-bit integer from a memory address
get-string <#get-string> gets a string from a memory address
import <#import> imports a function from a shared library
int <#int> translates a string or float into an integer
pack <#pack> packs newLISP expressions into a binary structure
unpack <#unpack> unpacks a binary structure into newLISP expressions
newLISP internals API
cpymem <#cpymem> copies memory between addresses
dump <#dump> shows memory address and contents of newLISP cells
read-expr <#read-expr> reads and optionally translates s-expressions from source
( § )
4. Functions in alphabetical order
*syntax: (! /str-shell-command/)*
Executes the command in /str-command/ by shelling out to the operating
system and executing. This function returns a different value depending
on the host operating system.
(! "vi")
(! "ls -ltr")
Use the exec <#exec> function to execute a shell command and capture the
standard output or to feed standard input. The process <#process>
function may be used to launch a non-blocking child process and redirect
std I/O and std error to pipes.
Note that ! (exclamation mark) can be also be used as a command-line
shell operator by omitting the parenthesis and space after the !:
*>* !ls -ltr ; executed in the newLISP shell window
Used in this way, the ! operator is not a newLISP function at all, but
rather a special feature of the newLISP command shell. The ! must be
entered as the first character on the command-line.
*syntax: ($ /int-idx/)*
The functions that use regular expressions (directory <#directory>,
ends-with <#ends-with>, find <#find>, parse <#parse>, regex <#regex>,
search <#search>, starts-with <#starts-with> and replace <#replace>) all
bind their results to the predefined system variables $0, $1, $2–$15
after or during the function's execution. System variables can be
treated the same as any other symbol. As an alternative, the contents of
these variables may also be accessed by using ($ 0), ($ 1), ($ 2), etc.
This method allows indexed access (i.e., ($ i), where i is an integer).
(set 'str "")
(find "http://(.*):(.*)" str 0) → 0
($ 0) → ""
($ 1) → ""
($ 2) → "80"
+, -, *, / ,%
*syntax: (+ /int-1/ [/int-2/ ... ])*
Returns the sum of all numbers in /int-1/ —.
*syntax: (- /int-