[Haskell-cafe] Haskell versus Lisp

Joel Reymont joelr1 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 09:35:15 EDT 2005

I have faced these issues twice, always starting from Lisp and moving  
on somewhere else. There's more on my travails at http:// 
wagerlabs.com/tech and http://wagerlabs.com/uptick.

I implemented a poker engine in Lisp but it appeared that to deliver  
it on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX I would need to buy 3 commercial  
Lisp licenses. The total cost would have been about 4K euro +  
maintenance fees for LispWorks and about 18K USD + 25% maintenance  
fees for Allegro CL. Allegro also comes with royalties of less than  
10%. Windows Lisps are GPL so I could not use them.

What turned me off with poker was trying to write a Reliable UDP  
protocol handler and having a lot of trouble with threads and timers  
for some reasons. Fortunately, I discovered Erlang, quickly rewrote  
my poker backend and have been happy since. That is until I  
discovered Haskell :-). I'm now thinking of rewriting various chunks  
of the engine in Haskell (hand ranking for example) to see how it  
feels and what I gain. Concurrent Haskell coupled with transactional  
memory looks attractive as well.

I also started with Lisp for my trading systems project (Uptick) but  
was turned off even faster this time. I investigated what it would  
take to write code that overloaded +, *, etc. for arrays or lists and  
what it would take to optimize this code. It's possible but it's not  
elegant or pleasant.

I love a good challenge and the challenge of learning Haskell is like  
no other. It does require me to rewire my brain and to think  
different. There are a number of applications where Haskell fits  
nicely, google for papers on audio processing, robotics (Yampa), etc.  
I have yet to find an application where Lisp would shine over  
everything else.


On Sep 16, 2005, at 3:06 PM, Mark Carter wrote:

> Alas, pulling against this seems to be a number of minuses. The  
> commercial Lisp implementations may be good, but what wannabe  
> hacker is going to fork out the cash for those babies? The free  
> ones that work on Windows are GPL, which means that although  
> somebody might be tempted to use them for personal projects, he is  
> not going to sell the idea to his boss that stuff should be  
> developed in Lisp.

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