newsGNU Common Lisp - News: 2.5.1 is released

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2.5.1 is released

Item posted by Camm Maguire <camm> on Sun Mar 2 15:53:24 2003.

From the release notes:
The GNU Common Lisp (GCL) development team is pleased to release
Version 2.5.1, the first major release since the untimely death of the
former maintainer Dr William Schelter over a year ago. This release
is dedicated to his memory. The project is now hosted on and is maintained and developed
by a team of thirteen programmers. Our home page lives at

This release stabilizes the CLtL1 compliant build of GCL on most major
Unices including 11 Debian Linux 64 and 32 bit architectures and modern
versions of Microsoft Windows (TM). A rapidly progressing, partially ANSI
compliant version is also available on the Linux platforms.

GCL plays a substantial role in development of the Maxima computer
algebra system (, ACL2, a computational
logic system (, and the
forthcoming public release of the Axiom computer algebra system.. The
compiler is a descendant of the famous KCL and AKCL Common Lisp
compilers and is licensed under version two of the GNU Library General
Public License.

As with any Lisp system GCL is a lot of fun to work with. We welcome all
comments and feedback. Developers are particularly welcome too. You will
find that the project offers a wide variety of challenges on various
platforms to anyone with an interest in compilers, low level C programming
or Common Lisp.



* Compiles itself, maxima, and acl2, passing all tests, on 11
Debian GNU/Linux platforms (i386, sparc, powerpc, s390, ia64, alpha,
mips, mipsel, hppa, arm, and m68k), Sparc Solaris, and recent Windows

* Compilation to native object code. Lisp disassembly shows intermediate
C source and native assembler.

* Native code relocation on all supported platforms except alpha, mips,
mipsel, ia64, and hppa.

* Can save its running memory image to a file on all systems where native object
code relocation is supported, thus producing standalone executables.

* Compiles Lisp function calls to C function calls with inlined
arguments, when function proclamation/declamations are made.

* Quite fast, particularly if one pre-allocates memory to be commensurate
with that typically available on modern computer systems. (see below)

* A foreign function interface as flexible in principle as the C interface.

* Socket support via streams

* Support for numbers of arbitrary precision via the GNU
Multiprecision Library. If you build GCL on your own system,
multiprecision numerical support will make use of ISA extension
instructions available on your system for maximum large number

* An exact garbage collector with no (known) leaks.

* An ANSI mode on Unix systems which passes approximately 97% of
the ANSI compliance tests currently developed for the project.
On Debian GNU/Linux systems, this mode can be selected by setting the
GCL_ANSI environment variable to any non-empty string. See
/usr/share/doc/gcl/test_results on Debian GNU/Linux systems.

* An MPI extension for cluster computing support. See the website for details.

* A long history of leveraging GCC compiler technology for use in
production lisp applications.


GCL is one of the oldest Lisp systems still in use, and as such has
served as the basis for large lisp applications when computers were
much more limited than they are today, particularly in terms of
available memory. Considerable effort was therefore made in the past
to keep the memory image as small as possible. As of the present
time, the GCL team has not tuned the default memory allocation scheme
to be more in line with modern systems. One can therefore often get
significant performance increases by preallocating memory, as in for

(si::allocate 'cons 10000 t)
(si::allocate 'fixnum 200 t)
(si::allocate 'symbol 100 t)
(si::allocate-relocatable-pages 2000 t)
(si::allocate 'cfun 1000 t))

Optimal values will no doubt vary by application and machine. One
user/developer reports effects of the following magnitude when
using preallocation:


Take a look on some funny numbers below. This is time and RAM
required to compute ratsimp((x+y+z)^300)$ on Linux AthlonXP 2400+.
For GCL run time is in the form T - G = N, where T is the total
time as shown by showtime:true; G is total GC tome and N
is run time without GC.

[sec] before max after
T - G = N [Mb] [Mb] [Mb]

CLISP 4.6 5.5 29 16

CMUCL 1.6 6.5 31 31

GCL class 5.9 - 5.2 = 0.7 8 24 24
GCL ansi 9.5 - 8.9 = 0.6 9.5 29 29

GCL class 1.0 - 0.4 = 0.6 24 31 31
GCL ansi 1.1 - 0.6 = 0.5 25 32 32

GCL class 0.7 - 0.1 = 0.6 48 55 55
GCL ansi 0.5 - 0.0 = 0.5 49 56 56




1) Full ANSI compliance
2) Native optimized blas support
3) Integrate MPI support
4) GCL as a suported GCC front end.
5) Performance/memory optimization


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