William Byrd on “The Most Beautiful Program Ever Written”

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Audio: http://bit.ly/2qkAczZ

Sponsored and hosted by Two Sigma (@twosigma) and Chartbeat (@Chartbeat)

William E. Byrd “explores what he considers to be the most beautiful program ever written—a Lisp interpreter written in Lisp—and a few of the many amazing ideas related to this metacircular interpreter.”


– The Little Schemer by Daniel P. Friedman and Matthias Felleisen
– Essentials of Programming Languages by Daniel P. Friedman and Mitchell Wand
– John McCarthy’s Recursive functions of symbolic expressions and their computation by machine, Part I
– LISP 1.5 Programmer’s Manual by John McCarthy, Paul W. Abrahams, Daniel J. Edwards, Timothy P. Hart and Michael I. Levin (see especially page 13!)
– John McCarthy’s A micro-manual for LISP – not the whole truth
– “Maxwell’s equations of software” examined by Ken Shirriff
– Lisp as the Maxwell’s equations of software by Michael Nielsen
– miniKanren, live and untagged: quine generation via relational interpreters (programming pearl) by William E. Byrd, Eric Holk, and Daniel P. Friedman
– The Reflective Language Black by Asai, Kenichi
– Programming Should Eat Itself by Nada Amin, Strange Loop, 2014

William E. Byrd (@webyrd) is a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah. He is co-author of ‘The Reasoned Schemer’, and is co-designer of the miniKanren relational programming language. He loves StarCraft (BW & SC2). Ask him about the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) he is building.


Cinnamon Twist says:

Talk is very out of my depth, but incredibly worthwhile.

guowei lv says:

Very inspiring! So inspiring that I wrote a blog post to remember everything https://www.lvguowei.me/post/the-most-beautiful-program-ever-written/

Pieter-Jan Lavaerts says:

He’s just changing scheme syntax?

MellowMaroon says:

What an awesome lecture! Thank you for posting!

mad kobra says:


Shubham Bhushan says:

I am tripping so hard on LiSP

Sohom Bhattacharjee says:


JC Stelu says:

25:22 We need a procedure for tying shoelaces.

Prateek Goel says:

you can also learn LISP from here for begginers

ThePandaGuitar says:

His enthusiasm is contagious. I love the way he builds up his lecture! Amazing amazing presentation I love it!! Thank you!!!

Robert Chrzanowski says:

This is the one true way to do TDD 🙂

Sam Pollard says:

He starts saying stuff besides “an interpreter for lisp written in lisp is sooooo cooool” about 11:30 in.

aspwil says:

Wtf is this programing language

Rostislav Svoboda says:

18K views, 0.3K likes… Seems like not that many people understand these things.

Max R says:

18 minutes in and I absolutely love this guy.

Ameer Fazal says:

Thanks Thanks and Thanks. 🙂 More lisp stuff please!

Danilo Mendonça Oliveira says:

I desperately need the source code.

Laurie Savage says:

(defun thanks ‘thanks)

Johnson Mafoko says:

amazing lecture,

meocats says:

there’s a paper on arxiv showing collatz is true but unprovable

Mike Ritter says:

great talk. nauseating camera.

Kevin Brown says:

Where can I get a hold of the genie game he mentions around @16:00

Build Threads says:

There are so many programming jokes here that I don’t get, but they’re still hilarious.

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