Advanced Coding

Function symbol

It is possible to obtain and execute symbols of previously defined functions. Function symbols can be obtained with #', being correspondent to function pointers in C.

Anonymous function (lambda)

Using the function symbol, it is possible to create and apply functions at the same time.

Regular function definition looks like:

(defun funcname (args) (do-something))

Anonymous functions can be defined with:

#'(lambda (args) (do-something))


sort is a function that sorts a list according to an evaluation function, which is given using the function symbol.

For example, try to execute the following:

(setq *ls* (list 0 3 1 2))
(print (sort *ls* #'<))
(print (sort *ls* #'>))

The first sort uses the function <, sorting in crescent order. The second sort uses the function >, sorting in decreasing order.

Please note that sort is destructive, causing the given variable to be changed.


mapcar applies given function symbol to all elements of a list.

In the following example, a lambda function that returns twice the input is given to double the value of all elements from the list.

(mapcar #'(lambda (x) (* 2 x)) (list 0 3 1 2))
;; (0 6 2 4)


funcall executes the given function symbol.

The next example shows a function that takes two values and a comparison function symbol func. If the result of executing func with the two values is non-nil it returns the first, else it returns the second value.

(defun numcheck (a b func) (if (funcall func a b) a b))

Try out and check the following results.

(numcheck 0 1 #'<)  ;; 0
(numcheck 0 1 #'>)  ;; 1