[plt-scheme] A Couple of Questions on DrScheme/Mzscheme

From: Jeff Stephens (jsteve17 at tampabay.rr.com)
Date: Wed Sep 25 20:19:49 EDT 2002

I am a novice at Scheme, first discovering DrScheme about 2 years ago.  Since then I have 
experimented with it on and off.  Prior to discovering Scheme I had experience programming
in assembly, fortran, C, and taken college courses in Cobol and Ada.  Scheme immediately 
seemed to me to be the language that I wish I had been exposed to when I first started
programming.  It seems so natural, even elegant to me.  It's syntax seems to fit my mind, or 
maybe thought process is a better word, better than any other language.  And recursion,
which I had always had trouble implementing in C even though I understood the concept, suddenly
seemed trivial.

All this is in the way of leading up to my question.  As far as I can tell, Scheme isn't used much
outside the academic community.  This despite the fact that it appears to be the introductory
language for the two premier science and engineering colleges in the country, i.e. MIT and
Cal Tech.  One would think that if the kind of student they have enrolled at these two institutions
felt that Scheme was a useful language, it would be in wider use.  It's hard for me to understand
why a person with a strong mathematics background wouldn't be attracted to Scheme.  It seems very intuitive from a mathematical perspective. I have been considering this question for awhile when I came across an article by Paul Graham, author of ANSI Common Lisp.  Of course, I know that Lisp and Scheme are related, and Lisp seems to suffer from the same lack of appreciation and use as Scheme.  Dr. Graham addressed this question as it relates to Lisp in an article he has posted at http://www.paulgraham.com/popular.html .  I
assume that by way of their relationship, he would apply the same arguments to Scheme.

The reason I am posting this question here is that I know that the language designers of DrScheme regularly read this forum and contribute to it, and can render an expert opionion on this question if they so
choose.  Also, I have my own thought about something that would contribute to increasing the use
of Scheme.  I wonder, in the universities where Scheme is being taught, how many of the departments
other than Computer Science, are using Scheme for any of their work?  I am thinking particularly of
Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, etc.  In other words, I would be interested in 
knowing why the designers of PLT Scheme can't convince more of their fellow professors to use
Scheme for their applications?  This question should also be asked of Patrick Henry Winston of MIT's
AI lab.  Why can't he convince more of his fellows to use Lisp?

Jeff Stephens


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.racket-lang.org/users/archive/attachments/20020925/bfdf7bf1/attachment.html>

Posted on the users mailing list.