Lisp at Lisp as an alternative to Java (Erann Gat)

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Extracts of an article from Erann Gat (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology , November 99, click here to see the full paper).

Introduction

In a recent study, Prechelt compared the relative performance of Java and C++ in terms of execution time and memory utilization. Unlike many benchmark studies, Prechelt compared multiple implementations of the same task by multiple programmers in order to control for the effects of differences in programmer skill. Prechelt concluded that, "as of JDK 1.2, Java programs are typically much slower than programs written in C or C++. They also consume much more memory." We have repeated Prechelt study using Lisp as the implementation language. Our results show that Lispís performance is comparable to or better than C++ in terms of execution speed, with significantly lower variability which translates into reduced project risk. Furthermore, development time is significantly lower and less variable than either C++ or Java. Memory consumption is comparable to Java. Lisp thus presents a viable alternative to Java for dynamic applications where performance is important.

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Conclusions

Lisp is often considered an esoteric AI language. Our results suggest that it might be worthwhile to revisit this view. Lisp provides nearly all of the advantages that make Java attractive, including automatic memory management, dynamic object-oriented programming, and portability. Our results suggest that Lisp is superior to Java and comparable to C++ in terms of runtime, and superior to both in terms of programming effort, and variability of results. This last item is particularly significant as it translates directly into reduced risk for software development.

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Last update : 23/10/2001