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References: REDUCE (pp. 251-252), :KEY arguments (p. 246),

the astronaut structure (pp. 312-313)

Category: ADDITION

Edit history: Version 1 by Pierson 5-Dec-87

Version 2 by Pierson 30-Dec-87

Version 3 by Masinter 13-Feb-88

Problem description:

REDUCE is the only one of the Common Lisp functions that modify or

search lists and sequences which does not accept a :KEY argument.

This complicates many uses of REDUCE.


Change the definition of REDUCE to take a :KEY keyword described as


If a :KEY argument is supplied, its value must be a function of one

argument which will be used to extract the values to reduce. The :KEY

function will be applied exactly once to each element of the sequence

in the order implied by the reduction order but not to the value of

the :INITIAL-VALUE argument, if any.


Using REDUCE to obtain the total of the ages of the possibly empty

sequence of astronauts ASTROS, would currently require:


If this proposal is adopted, the same result could be obtained without

creating a new list by:



This proposal makes many common situations where REDUCE would be useful

much less cumbersome.

Current practice:

We know of no implementation which currently supports this feature.

Cost to Implementors:

This will require most implementations to make a trivial modification

to REDUCE. Implementations which wish to use this as an opportunity to

further optimize compiled calls to REDUCE will have to undertake more

work (which would be much more difficult today).

Cost to Users:

None, this is an upward compatible extension.

Cost of non-Adoption:

REDUCE will continue to be more difficult to use than other sequence

functions on sequences of complex objects.


REDUCE will become easier to use on sequences of complex objects. It

will be easier for compilers to convert some calls to REDUCE into

efficient loops.


Slightly damaged in one way. All :KEY arguments are currently defined

to be used for predicates, this proposal will implicitly broaden :KEY

to support general extraction for any purpose.

Slightly improved in another way. Many common situations where REDUCE

could be used would be easier to write and easier to later read.


Several members of the committee feel that the increased functionality

outweighs the damage to the definition of :KEY. No one has objected

to this change in the recent round of discussions.

There is some controversy over whether the "definition" of :KEY

arguments on page 246 of CLtL really constitutes a definition or just

an "unwritten rule".

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