Thank you Alex for your patience, I see I have a severe confussion about how picolisp manages lists

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let's start by the begining... as far as I know (f a b 4) is just a list equivalent to (f . (a . (b . (4 . NIL)))) and the fact being also a function call to function f applying parameters a b 4 is just a matter of "convention", simply when picolisp evals a list with a first item not being a number it supposes it's a function call and tries to evaluate first item (it doesn't matter if first item is a symbol or another list, it gets evaluated) which is supposed to be evaluated to a function value With this point of view I understand what you mean when saying (f 1 a b c) is just the same as (f 1 . (a b c)) and thus you can view a, b, c as a list so you can describe this funcion as (f num . 'lst), ok, but also I think you could describe the function f also as (f . 'lst) . The only difference is that using the latter you are only interested in remark you pass to f a sequence of symbols (which form a list) while using the former description you are interested in remark the first symbol in the sequence is supposed to be a number and also it is not evaluated. But if you describe a function like (g num 'lst) is a quite different thing because you are expecting two arguments the first one being a number and the second being a list (of unlimited number of items), really all functions described have an unlimited number of arguments but function g packs all arguments but the first in a list. I think I get the point, but what confuses me is when you say On Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 8:31 AM, Alexander Burger <a...@software-lab.de> wrote: > > From this point of view my question is about the difference of using or > > > not using dot when describing a function, for example, take the if > > > description: > > > > > > (if 'any1 any2 . prg) -> any > > > > > > Would the description below describe the same function? > > > > > > (if 'any1 any2 prg) -> any > > A typical call of 'if' could be > > (if (testSomething) (doSomething1) (doSomething2) (doSomething3)) > > where > > any1 is the result of evaluating (testSomething) > any2 is (doSomething1) > prg is ((doSomething2) (doSomething3)) > > Perhaps it helps understanding if we remember that > > (if (testSomething) (doSomething1) (doSomething2) (doSomething3)) > > is the same as > > (if (testSomething) (doSomething1) . ((doSomething2) (doSomething3))) > > > If 'if' were specified as in the second case (if 'any1 any2 prg), then we > would > need to call it as > > (if (testSomething) (doSomething1) ((doSomething2) (doSomething3))) > > to match the spec (if 'any1 any2 prg) and get the same bindings. > > but this also means the only way to indicate several executable expressions in the "then-clause" is to surround them between parens, i.e. (if (= 2 2) ((print "equal") (print "2")) (print "not equal") (print "not 2")) I appreciate here an absence of symmetry, you must pack all exe expressions in a list for "then-clause" but you can't do it for "else-clause" [in fact I think it will fail if you do that in a "then-clause" like (if T 1 ((print "ups") (print "error"))) ] why not to define and describe function if in a symmetrical way as (if 'any prg1 prg2) even when not obeying parens economy? (sure there is a good reason to do it that way simply I'm not able to see) this way you always write prgs inside a list whatever being in then-clause or an else-clause i.e. (if (> a b) ((print "a greater")) ((print "b greater or equal"))) > > > > (if T 3 4) # > invalid because 4 is a number not a prg (a list) > > Yes, but the prg is (4), not 4. > I guess you say that because using the "stack" simil you used in previous email, when you pop first item it remais (T 3 4) when you pop again it remains (3 4) and with next pop which remains is (4) I think my confusion is due to the lack of one more pop to get 4 rather than (4) , if the answer is "because prg indicates its a list, if you want to indicate a number you should use num instead" then my confusion is like this: - two functions f described this way: (f num . lst) (f num1 num2) then the list (f 1 2) is a valid call for both functions, the first f will bind first parameter to numer 1 and second parameter to list (2) (all remaining parameters as a list) while the second f will bind 1 to num1 and 2 to num2 (descarding empty list NIL). My confusion here is picolisp must do two pops to bind parameters for a first f function call but three pops to bind parameters for a second f function call. How discriminate picolisp between each cases? I suppose the answer is function definition: first f defined as (de f (X . Rest) (...) ) second f defined as (de f (X Y) (...) ) is it ok? thanks a lot and forgive my insistence ;-)