[R6RS] Case-sensitivity

Michael Sperber sperber at informatik.uni-tuebingen.de
Thu Feb 16 02:02:58 EST 2006

Boy, are some of you going to hate me for this ...  Sorry for being

I'm concerned about our decision to make Scheme case-sensitive.

Observation: We voted to make Scheme case-sensitive by a margin of
4-3.  However, if we voted today, I suspect the decision would come
out differently (I believe Anton, Will and I are in favor of
case-insensitivity.)  Moreover, if we asked all editors past and
present, the vote would come out tied.

Now, I'm not (presently, anyway) advocating we reverse that decision,
but a rationale is sorely missing.  Without a rationale, the danger of
yo-yoing in the future (as well as rebel implementations that simply
don't follow the standard) is significant.  What's to keep a future
editors' committee from simply reversing the decision?

In the past, I've heard a number of rationales that apply to
individuals ("I'd like to distinguish identifiers that differ only in
case."  "I like writing down identifiers from foreign languages that
are case-sensititive."), but most of them have individual rebuttals
from the other side of the fence ("I'd like to denote the same
identifier by names that differ in case."  "Case-sensitivity by itself
doesn't necessarily make the identifier syntax of a foreign language a
subset of Scheme's identifiers; besides, there's the |...| quoting in
SRFI 83."), and thus don't decrease the yo-yo danger.

I suspect the real rationale we should apply is "An overwhelming
majority of the community is in favor of the change."  I'd be fine
with that, but I think that this should be substantiated.  (I know of
two local polls---at the 2004 Scheme workshop and on the PLT Scheme
mailing list.)

(If there's a different rationale not purely based on public opinion
that we could agree on, that'd be fine, too, of course.)

So---do you agree we should have a rationale on this?  If so, what is

PS: Just a note---as fate would have it, just after I'd started
    writing this email, this appeared on comp.lang.scheme:

> I heard through the webcast grapevine that the next official Scheme
> standard might include case-sensitivity. Anyone know why this
> consideration is under evaluation? Is it felt that computer science
> students are somehow missing out by not having to worry about
> case-sensitivity?

The same issue crops up in other places on the 'net as well.

Cheers =8-} Mike
Friede, Völkerverständigung und überhaupt blabla

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