SICP Goodness - Metacircular Evaluator

a literate programming approach

Guowei Lv

2 minute read

Do you think Computer Science equals building websites and mobile apps?

Are you feeling that you are doing repetitive and not so intelligent work?

Are you feeling a bit sick about reading manuals and copy-pasting code and keep poking around until it works all day long?

Do you want to understand the soul of Computer Science?

If yes, read SICP!!!

At the beginning of Chapter 4, we will implement an evaluator. This is a complete change of topic, we put down the “language user” hat and put on the “language designer” hat. For an “average programer” like me, this feels simply too advanced and unfamiliar. So I decided to slow down and pay more attention.

After skimming through 4.1, I was thinking is the code from book able to run at all? So I typed them all and to my suprise, it ran without any problem (well, except for a few typos).

Then I made another decision to go one step further: typing the entire chapter 4.1 into an orgmode file as a literate program. And it worked out like a charm!

Here is the org file

And the exported beautiful pdf file

And to prove everything works, let’s run the test code from the book:

MIT/GNU Scheme running under GNU/Linux
Type `^C' (control-C) followed by `H' to obtain information about interrupts.

Copyright (C) 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR

Image saved on Saturday August 10, 2019 at 6:28:48 PM
  Release 10.1.10 || Microcode 15.3 || Runtime 15.7 || SF 4.41 || LIAR/x86-64 4.118

1 ]=> 
;Loading "metacircular.scm"... done
;Value: driver-loop

1 ]=> (define the-global-environment (setup-environment))

;Value: the-global-environment

1 ]=> (driver-loop)

;; M-Eval input:
(define (append x y)
  (if (null? x)
    (cons (car x)
          (append (cdr x) y))))

;; M-Eval value:

;; M-Eval input:
(append '(a b c) '(d e f))

;; M-Eval value:
(a b c d e f)

;; M-Eval input:
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