Symbolic Processing in Scheme: class notes

In this lecture we explore one of the most powerful features of Scheme -- the notion of a list.


A list is a sequence of Scheme terms enclosed in parentheses. Lists can be constructed in several ways. The simplest way is simply to put a single quote in front of the list
  (define x '(a b c d e))
      '(a b c d e)
  (define y '(1 2 (+ 3 4) 5 6))
      '(1 2 (+ 3 4) 5 6))

Another way to create lists is with the "list" function. This creates a list of its arguments

    (define u (list 'a 'e 'i 'o 'u))
       '(a e i o u)
    (define v (list 1 2 (+ 3 4) 5 6))
       '(1 2 7 5 6)
The "list" function evaluates its arguments so in particular v above and y in the previous example give different results.

Basic operations on lists

    (null? ()) ;==> #t
    (null? '(a b c)) ;==> #f
    (first '(a b c)) ;==> a
    (rest  '(a b c)) ;==> (b c)
    (rest  '(a))     ;==> ()
    (cons 'a '(b c)) ;==> (a b c)
    (cons 'a '())    ;==> (a)

Symbolic Processing

(define (second x) (first (rest x)))

(define (third x) (first (rest (rest x))))
(define (third x) (second (rest x)))

(define (fourth x) (first (rest (rest (rest x)))))
(define (fourth x) (third (rest x)))

(define (get-nth N L)
  (if (= N 1)
      (first L)
      (get-nth (- N 1) (rest L))))

Lets now trace the evolution of a call to "get-nth":
> (get-nth 4 '(a b c d e f g h))
  (get-nth 3 '(b c d e f g h))
  (get-nth 2 '(c d e f g h))
  (get-nth 1 '(c d e f g h))

Random numbers and random selection

(define (random N)
  (Math.ceil (* N (Math.random))))

(define (get-random L)
  (get-nth (random (length L)) L))


Very Simple Conversation Program

view Doctor applet

run Doctor applet

Dr. Silicon

Next we look at an applet which simulates a counselor. The key idea behind this applet is that it looks for keywords in the user's sentences and uses the keywords to select a list of "canned" responses. Selecting one of those responses at random provides the applet with the ability to respond somewhat "appropriately" to the user.

You need Java to view applets.

here is a link to the source code.