TALKING WITH LISP
FOR THOSE of you who think that Lisp has certain oral connotations then Lisp - The Language of Artificial Intelligence, by Dr A A Berk, will be a re-education.
The book gives a general grounding in the language structure of Lisp and provides information on how it can be used to simulate artificial intelligence in any microcomputer.
The introduction to AI at the beginning of the book is sparse and to the point. It starts with a definition of AI, describing it within the context of machine intelligence, and that hoary old computer chestnut, the Turing test of machine AI. A general description of Lisp is then given showing how its simple language constructs are flexible enough for the programming of AI applications, such as the construction of coherent responses to user input and the manipulation of data to produce new output, or results.
The central section of the book is a list of the function types which can be used with Lisp and an explanation of how to use those to build your own functions.
You will find that in some ways Lisp's structure is similar to that of Forth. You can build several program routines - called functions - which can then be used in other function routines. You can even allow functions to call themselves into action. That is called recursion and, because of its importance to the usage of the language, has been allocated a long section towards the end of the book.
Finally, Dr Berk deals with the advanced features of the language and those which you can build into it. Some of those may not be available on your version of Lisp but the language should be so flexible, and easy enough to understand, that you should have no trouble in making your definitions of some of them.
An appendix at the back gives a list of standard Lisp functions so you can see just how your version of the language matches the original specification.
Dr Berk, or the publisher of the book, has made one error. Little information is given as to the origins of Lisp which was developed in the Sixties and has since been adapted to fit the needs of investigators into AI.
Despite that oversight, the book is a first-class tutorial on the subject and will be of use to anybody in language other than Basic, or in AI.
Price: £9.95 (paperback)