Common Lisp the Language, 2nd Edition

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The metaclass of an object is the class of its class. The metaclass determines the representation of instances of its instances and the forms of inheritance used by its instances for slot descriptions and method inheritance. The metaclass mechanism can be used to provide particular forms of optimization or to tailor the Common Lisp Object System for particular uses. The protocol for defining metaclasses is discussed in the third part of the CLOS specification, The Common Lisp Object System Meta-Object Protocol. [The third part has not yet been approved by X3J13 for inclusion in the forthcoming Common Lisp standard and is not included in this book.-GLS]