[FOM] Arithmetic-free theory of formal systems?

John McCarthy jmc at steam.stanford.edu
Tue May 18 03:53:05 EDT 2004

I said

> Lisp lists are better for expressing symbolic information than
> strings.

Steven Ericsson asked,

     Do you mean this from the point of view of a member of our
     species or a computer's point of view - which I take to be

>From the point of view of a member of our species having to write
a computer program or having to write a logical formula about
symbolic expressions, Lisp notation makes the task easier.

I think short formulas are more readable in conventional
notation, but very long formulas are more readable in Lisp
notation, especially when "pretty printed" with the automatic use
of indentation.

It is one of the inadequacies of TeX that it provides no way of
automatically dividing long formulas into lines.  I think it
wouldn't have been easy, nor would the results have been up to
the standards of TeX in elegance.  No-one has written a text
editor formula justification feature.

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