Skip to content
An actor system for Common Lisp.
Common Lisp
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.

This is a simple and easy to use Actor system in Common Lisp.


Requires Bordeaux threads. 2. Just load actors.lisp and start using it. If you have Quicklisp, (ql:quickload "cl-actors")


A small manual can be found at :

  • Creating an actor class or template

      (defactor Actor-Class
  • Creating an actor instance

         (setq my-actor (Actor-Class (:state-var_1 value_1 ...
    	 	  	        :state-var_n value_n)))
  • Sending a message

       (send my-actor message_args)


  1. Concurrency using the actors model.
  2. Dynamic behavior change of actors.


  • A ticker: Keeps printing out a count every 2 seconds, starting from 0 and incrementing it every 2 seconds.
;create the ticker template
(defactor ticker ((counter 0)) (m) 
	     (sleep 2) (pr counter)
	        (incf counter) (send self nil) next)
; Create an instance
(setf t1 (ticker))
; send a message (async)
(send t1 nil)
; to stop use
(stop-actor t1)
  • A print actor: Prints the message which was sent to it. A very useful utility actor.
	;create the actor template
(defactor print-actor () (val) (pr val) next)
; initialize a new instance
(setf printer (print-actor))
;send values for printing
(send printer "hello, world")
  • A factorial computing actor : The name says it all :)
;create the template
(defactor fact ((temp 1)) (n cust) 
	     (if (equal 1 n) 
	            (progn (send cust (* temp 1))
                      (setf temp 1) next)
		             (progn (setf temp (* n temp))
                      (send self (- n 1) cust) next)))
;create a new instance 
(setf f (fact))
; send a value
(send f 4 print-actor)
  • A nagger for fun : Works only in Mac OS X. Keeps saying out aloud "please work" every 10 seconds :)
(defactor nagger () () 
    (sleep 10)
       (trivial-shell:shell-command "say please work")
          (send self) next)
; anonymous actor , no way to stop the nagging 
(send (nagger))

More Resources

  1. Meta-Circular Adventures in Functional Abstraction The wonderful and detailed original blog post is no longer availabe. The link below points to a snaphost.
You can’t perform that action at this time.