Handling Data in a Generic Way

Common Lisp has many different datatypes available for writing elegant and efficient programs. But without some care, having so many datatypes can lead to ugly and repetitive code.

For example, suppose we want to add several groups of numbers, which are stored as both lists and arrays. Since lists and arrays behave differently, will we need to write two different addition functions—one for lists and the other for arrays? It would be great if we could write a single chunk of code to handle both cases without caring about how the numbers are stored.

Common Lisp has all the features we need to write such generic code, including generic library functions, type predicates, defmethod, and generic accessors. We can use these ...

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