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SPARC proposal


One thing I meant to say in reply to your notes earlier in the week was
that we really need to figure out how the steering and technical
committees relate to the official X3 committee.

The view that I had after the Boston meeting was that we would put
together the steering and technical committees as quickly as possible,
and then propose to ISO/ANSI that they somehow be recognized as
official.  In that case, we could start the technical work right away.

As I understand it now, the X3 committee will not be formed until this
summer or early fall, and they will be a self-appointed group -- anyone
can join who pays the $150 dues and who participates.  And it is
ultimately up to the X3 committee to elect the technical commitee.  We
might be able to get them to rubber stamp our selections, but if the
actual outcome of this is uncertain until September, I see a great
potential for paralysis.

Maybe the right move is just to appoint ourselves as a technical
committee, proceed as if we really believe that we are legitimiate,
and hope that nothing we do gets repudiated in the end.  That could work
if we can all carry off the bluff with a straight face.

Regarding your proposal to SPARC, I think that there are some
inaccuracies, especially in the area of history.  Let me propose a
revised version (some of the revisions suggested by Dick Gabriel).
The revised paragraphs are flush-left, while the old ones are indented. 

    1  Identification of Proposed Project

    1.1  Title

    Common LISP

    1.2  Proposer(s)

    Robert F. Mathis, 9712 Ceralene Drive, Fairfax, VA 22032,
    (703)425-5923, on behalf of the Common LISP Community.

The Common Lisp Community is an informal collection of people from
industry, academia, and government who have particpated in the initial
design and implementation of Common Lisp.  This group has been in
existence for five years, communicating primarily by ARPAnet.
Occasionally the community meets, as they did in Boston, December 9-11,
1985.  At that meeting they decided that a national and international
standards effort for Common Lisp was appropriate and endorsed Robert
Mathis as the coordinator and organizer of that effort.

    1.3  Date Submitted

    February 1, 1986

    2  Justification of Proposed Standard

    2.1  Needs

Lisp is the second oldest programming language still in current use
(after Fortran).  Lisp has traditionally been the language used for most
Artificial Intelligence programming, and is now becoming popular for
non-AI tasks as well.  Throughout its early history, Lisp was the
subject of much experimentation; this has greatly improved the Lisp
language, but has also led to a proliferation of incompatible dialects.
This lack of standardization has impeded the acceptance of Lisp in

In 1981, with the encouragement of DARPA, an effort was begun by a
number of researchers at several organizations to define a commonly
acceptable version of LISP.  The language specification was written by
members of this informal group, after extensive discussions on the
ARPAnet.  The resulting book Common LISP: The Language by Guy Steele Jr.
Jr. has received world wide acceptance. MACLISP, ZETALISP, SCHEME,
"Standard" LISP, and Portable "Standard" LISP have all been considered
in the design of Common Lisp, and the most useful features of each were
incorporated.  Common Lisp, as described in the Steele book, has now
become a de facto standard within the U. S., and there is great interest
in this language in Europe and Japan.  Therefore, we feel that the time
has come to develop an official international standard for this

    2.2  Recommended Scope of Standard

    2.3  Existing Practice in Area of Proposed Standard

Of the U. S. hardware manufacturers who support any kind of Lisp on
their machines, the overwhelming majority have now announced plans to
the Common Lisp language as described in the Steele book, either as
their only supported Lisp product or alongside some older dialect.
DARPA and other agencies in the DoD are insisting on Common LISP as the
version of LISP to be used on their projects.  A Common Lisp Committee
has been formed in Japan to promote the language there, and there is
growing interest in the language in Europe.

    2.4  Expected Stability of Proposed Standard with Respect to Current

    Quoting from the Introduction" to Common LISP: The Language, "It
    is intended that Common LISP will change only slowly and with due
    LISP may serve as laboratories within which to test language
    extensions, but such extensions will be added to Common LISP only
    after careful examination and experimentation." (p. 3)

The Common Lisp language is still relatively new, and we would
anticipate that a new revision of the standard would appear
approximately every two years .

    3  Description of Proposed Project

    3.1  Definitions of Concepts and Special Terms (if any)

    3.2  Expected Relationship with Approved X3 Reference Models

    3.3  Recommended Program of Work

    3.3.1  Base Documents

    3.3.2  Time/Milestone Schedule

    3.3.3  Potential Participants

    Some leaders in the Common LISP Community have already been
    identified who are willing to serve: John McCarthy, Stanford
    (inventor of Lisp); Guy Steele, Thinking Machines (author of
    Common LISP: The Language); Scott Fahlman, CMU; Dick Gabriel,
    Lucid; Dave Moon, Symbolics; Steve Squires, DARPA; Ron Ohlander,
    USC-ISI; and Bob Mathis, Private Consultant. Other people we also
    expect to be involved include: Danny Bobrow, Xerox; Martin Griss,
    H-P; Jonathan Rees, MIT; Jerome Chailloux, INRIA; and Masayuki
    Ida, Aoyama Gakuin University. We have not identified anyone
    appropriate in Britain, West Germany, or other countries.

<< Maybe this can wait until we have contacted the others.  Then it's
just one big list.  I would leave out the part about not being able to
find anyone in Britain, etc., or if we must say something, say that we
have not YET found appropriate participants there.  No sense making more
enemies. >>

    3.4  Resources -- Individuals and Organizations Competent in Subject

    3.5  Recommended X3 Development Technical Committee (Existing or New)

    3.6  Anticipated Frequency and Duration of Meetings

    3.7  Target Date for dpANS to X3 (Milestone 10)

    3.8  Estimated Useful Life of Standard

    4  Implementation Impacts

    4.1  Impact on Existing User Practices and Investments

    4.2  Impact on Supplier Products and Support

    4.3  Techniques and Costs for Compliance Verification

    4.4  Legal Considerations

    5  Closely Related Standards Activities

    5.1  Existing Standards

    5.2  X3 Standards Development Projects

    5.3  X3/SPARC Study Groups

    5.4  Other Related Domestic Standards Efforts

    5.5  ISO Standards Development Projects

    5.6  Other Related International Standards Development Projects

    5.7  Recommendations for Close Liaison