June 1, 1996
Lisp was built on the tradition of the lambda calculus. When Prolog became popular a good dozen years ago, it also spawned a flurry of research into the semantics of logic programming. The evaluation model of Mathematica as a programming language is at least as complex and interesting: why has there been no comparable interest?
I’ve wondered that myself. There has been some work, but there could certainly be much more. Perhaps it’s another sign of the decay of academic computer science. After all, thinking about evaluation models is intellectually quite difficult, especially when there’s a real system out there to stop people being able to hide in pure formalism. But I think there are some really interesting questions to address about evaluation. There are a few people in my company who study it, but I wish more people would work on it.