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Steele and Sussman


The Art of the Interpreter

variables occurring in the body.

In more detail, EVAL is a case analysis on the structure of the S-expression EXP. If it is an atom, there are several subcases. The special atoms T and NIL are defined to evaluate to T and NIL (this is strictly for convenience, because they are used as truth values). Similarly, for convenience numeric atoms evaluate to themselves. (These cases could be eliminated by requiring the user to write lots of QUOTE forms: 'T, 'NIL, '43, etc. This would have been quite inconvenient in early LISP, before the "'" notation had been introduced; one would have had to write (QUOTE 43), etc.) Atomic symbols, however, encode variables; the value associated with that symbol is extracted from the environment ENV using the function VALUE (see below).

If the expression to be evaluated is not atomic, then it may be a QUOTE form, a COND form, or a combination. For a QUOTE form, EVAL extracts the S-expression constant using CADR. Conditionals are handled by EVCOND, which calls EVAL on a predicate expression; if the predicate is true, EVCOND evaluates the corresponding result expression (by calling EVAL, of course); if the predicate is false, EVCOND calls itself to test the predicate of the next clause of the COND body. For combinations, the procedure is obtained, the arguments evaluated (using EVLIS), and APPLY called as described earlier. Notice that VALUE is used to get the procedure definition from the set PROCEDURES; we can do this because, as an engineering trick, we arrange for ENV and PROCEDURES to have the same structure, because they are both symbol tables.

EVLIS is a simple recursive function which calls EVAL on successive arguments in ARGLIST and produces a list of the values in order.

APPLY distinguishes two kinds of procedures: primitive and user-defined. For now we avoid describing the precise implementation of primitive procedures by assuming the existence of a predicate PRIMOP which is true only of primitive procedures, and a function PRIMOP-APPLY which deals with the application of such primitive procedures. (See {Note Primitive Operators} for the details of a possible implementation of PRIMOP and PRIMOP- APPLY.) We consider primitive procedures to be a kind of atomic S-expression other than numbers and atomic symbols; we define no particular written notation for them here. However, primitive procedures are not to be confused with the atomic symbols used as their names. The result of (VALUE 'CAR PROCEDURES) is not the atomic symbol CAR, but rather some bizarre object which is meaningful only to PRIMOP-APPLY.

User-defined procedures are represented here as lists. These lists are constructed by DRIVER-LOOP-1. The car of the list is the list of formal parameters, and the cadr is the body of the definition.