William Clinger (computer scientist)

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William D. Clinger is an Associate Professor in the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University.[1] Clinger is known for his work on higher-order and functional programming languages, and in particular for his contributions to the standardization of the Scheme programming language. Clinger was an editor of the second through fifth Revised Reports on Scheme (R2RS – R5RS),[2] and an invited speaker on Scheme at the Lisp50 conference celebrating the 50th birthday of the Lisp programming language.[3] He has been on the faculty at Northeastern University since 1994.[4]


Clinger obtained his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the supervision of Carl Hewitt. His doctoral research revolved around defining a denotational semantics for the Actor model of concurrent computation,[5] which is the same model of computation that originally motivated development of Scheme.[6]

In addition to editing the R2RS – R5RS Scheme standards, Clinger's contributions to Scheme have included the development of compilers for two implementations of the language: MacScheme,[7] and Larceny.[8] He has also invented efficient algorithms for hygienic macro expansion, accurate decimal-to-binary conversions, and bounded-latency generational garbage collection.[3]


  1. ^ "William D. Clinger". College of Computer and Information Science Faculty. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  2. ^ "Scheme Standards". SchemePunks. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  3. ^ a b "Schedule". Lisp50. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  4. ^ Costanza, Pascal (October 2008). "William Clinger will speak at Lisp50". Lisp50. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  5. ^ William Clinger (June 1981). "Foundations of Actor Semantics". Mathematics Doctoral Dissertation. MIT.
  6. ^ "We wanted to better understand Hewitt's actors model but were having trouble relating the actors model and its unusual terminology to familiar programming notions. We decided to construct a toy implementation of an actor language so that we could play with it. Using MacLisp as a working environment, we wrote a tiny Lisp interpreter and then added mechanisms for creating actors and sending messages." Guy L. Steele, Gerald Jay Sussman (December 1998). "The First Report on Scheme Revisited" (PDF). Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation. 11 (4): 399–404. doi:10.1023/A:1010079421970. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
  7. ^ Kantrowitz, Mark; Barry Margolin (1997). "Commercial Scheme implementations". FAQ: Scheme Implementations and Mailing Lists. Retrieved 2009-01-10. MacScheme is a Scheme interpreter and compiler for the Apple Macintosh, and includes an editor, debugger and object system. ... Implemented by Will Clinger, John Ulrich, Liz Heller and Eric Ost.
  8. ^ Clinger, William D. (2008). "History". The Larceny Project. Retrieved 2009-01-10.

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