((lambda (discussions) (report on X3J13))
Robert F. Mathis, X3J13 Convenor
Interest in Lisp standardization has resulted in the formation of a new technical committee known
as "X3Jl3 Common Lisp." This is a technical subcommittee within the Accredited Standards
Committee "X3--Information Processing Systems" which is sponsored by CBEMA (Computer
and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association) and operates under the procedures of the
American National Standards Institute (ANSI). X3 has a number of technical subcommittees
which do the detailed technical work of standards development, including: X3.I1 (PL/I), X3J2
(BASIC), X3J3 (FORTRAN), X3.I4 (COBOL), X3.I9 (Pascal), X3Jl0 (APL), X3.ll1 (C), and
now X3Jl3 (Common Lisp). Although X3 has a large role in the development of programming
language standards, some ANSI standard languages (like MUMPS and Ada) have not gone
through the X3 route. The IEEE is also very active in developing computer standards. X3 also
serves as the US technical committee that corresponds to ISO/TC97 (the Technical Committee
on Information Processing within the International Organization for Standardization).
Besides the US interest, there is also significant international interest in Lisp standardization which
has resulted in lSO/TC97/ SC22 (the Languages SubCornrnittee of the Technical Committee on
Information Processing of the International Organization for Standardization) beginning the process
which might lead to the development of an intemational standard for Lisp. During the last year,
the development of a new work item for Lisp has been done by an ad hoc committee which I lead.
There still has to be an official mail ballot, which should be affirmative. France will nominate a
convenor and the US a project editor. This national and international activity has generated a lot
of interest in Lisp standardization both from people interested in participating on the committees
and from more casual observers.
In this column, I will try to highlight the activities of X3J13 which might be of interest to a broad
Lisp community. l did not know what name to give this column, but I did know its function, so
the suggested title "(1ambda () (report on X3J13))" seemed appropriate. But this might have implied
there were no arguments, hence the title I chose. The format is going to be very informal. For
many of the discussion topics in the Lisp standardization groups, other people will have prepared
papers describing them. If appropriate some of those papers will appear in this newsletter. I will
be trying to give a general overview and perspective.
X3 technical committees are administered in a very open way. People who want to participate on
X3J13 (or most of the other committees and subcommittees of X3) are welcome to do so. To be
able to vote at meetings or in mail ballots, you must make a commitment to continuing participation.
This means attendance at two of the last three meetings, returning mail ballots, and payment
of a $175 annual service fee to X3. Membership is by companies or organizations and the fee
covers both a principal member and an altemate. The procedures for X3 subcommittees are thoroughly
described in X3 Standing Document 2 (X3/SD-2), which I can make available.
X3J13's first meeting was in Washington, DC, on September 23-24, 1986. The second meeting will
be in Dallas, TX, on December 10- 12, 1986. The third meeting will be in Palo Alto, CA, on March
16-18, 1987. The fourth meeting will probably be in the Boston, MA, area in June, 1987.
X3.I13 is just beginning to work on a Common Lisp standard. That means that a number of basic
issues are being discussed. Although the committee is generally agreed to start from the existing
Steele book (Common Lisp: The Language by Guy L. Steele Jr., Digital Press, 1984), there is not
yet an agreement on the form and format of the eventual standard. For example, will it be narrative
and topic oriented or will it be arranged by function name?