I want to know if these two definitions of nth are equal:
I. is defined as macro:
(defmacro -nth (n lst)
(defun f (n1 lst1)
(cond ((eql n1 0) lst1)
(t `(cdr ,(f (- n1 1) lst1)))))
`(car ,(f n lst)))
II. is defined as a bunch of functions:
(defun f (n lst)
(cond ((eql n 0) lst)
(t `(cdr ,(f (- n 1) lst)))))
(defun f1 (n lst)
`(car ,(f n `',lst)))
(defun --nth (n lst)
(eval (f1 n lst)))
Am i get the right idea? Is macro definition is evaluating of expression, constructed in its body?
Best How To :
OK, let start from the beginning.
Macro is used to create new forms that usually depend on macro's input. Before code is complied or evaluated, macro has to be expanded. Expansion of a macro is a process that takes place before evaluation of form where it is used. Result of such expansion is usually a lisp form.
So inside a macro here are a several levels of code.
- Not quoted code will be evaluated during macroexpansion (not at run-time!), in your example you define function
f when macro is expanded (for what?);
- Next here is quoted (with usual quote or backquote or even nested backquotes) code that will become part of macroexpansion result (in its literal form); you can control what part of code will be evaluated during macroexpansion and what will stay intact (quoted, partially or completely). This allows one to construct anything before it will be executed.
Another feature of macro is that it does not evaluate its parameters before expansion, while function does. To give you picture of what is a macro, see this (just first thing that came to mind):
(defmacro aif (test then &optional else)
`(let ((it ,test))
(if it ,then ,else)))
You can use it like this:
CL-USER> (defparameter *x* '((a . 1) (b . 2) (c . 3) (d . 4)))
CL-USER> (aif (find 'c *x* :key #'car) (1+ (cdr it)) 0)
This macro creates useful lexical binding, capturing variable
it. After checking of a condition, you don't have to recalculate result, it's accessible in forms 'then' and 'else'. It's impossible to do with just a function, it has introduced new control construction in language. But macro is not just about creating lexical environments.
Macro is a powerful tool. It's impossible to fully describe what you can do with it, because you can do everything. But
nth is not something you need a macro for. To construct a clone of
nth you can try to write a recursive function.
It's important to note that LISP macro is most powerful thing in the programming world and LISP is the only language that has this power ;-)
To inspire you, I would recommend this article: http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html
To master macro, begin with something like this:
Then may be Paul Graham's "On Lisp", then "Let Over Lambda".