common-lisp Getting started with common-lisp Lambda Expressions and Anonymous Functions


An anonymous function can be defined without a name through a Lambda Expression. For defining these type of functions, the keyword lambda is used instead of the keyword defun. The following lines are all equivalent and define anonymous functions which output the sum of two numbers:

(lambda (x y) (+ x y))
(function (lambda (x y) (+ x y)))
#'(lambda (x y) (+ x y))

Their usefulness is noticeable when creating Lambda forms, i.e. a form that is a list where the first element is the lambda expression and the remaining elements are the anonymous function's arguments. Examples (online execution):

(print ((lambda (x y) (+ x y)) 1 2)) ; >> 3

(print (mapcar (lambda (x y) (+ x y)) '(1 2 3) '(2 -5 0))) ; >> (3 -3 3)