This section gives an informal account of some of the lexical conventions used in writing Scheme programs. For a formal syntax of Scheme, see section 7.1 Formal syntax.
Upper and lower case forms of a letter are never distinguished
except within character and string constants. For example,
the same identifier as
FOO, and #x1AB is the same number as
Most identifiers allowed by other programming
languages are also acceptable to Scheme. The precise rules for forming
identifiers vary among implementations of Scheme, but in all
implementations a sequence of letters, digits, and "extended alphabetic
characters" that begins with a character that cannot begin a number is
an identifier. In addition,
... are identifiers.
Here are some examples of identifiers:
lambda q list->vector soup + V17a <=? a34kTMNs the-word-recursion-has-many-meanings
Extended alphabetic characters may be used within identifiers as if they were letters. The following are extended alphabetic characters:
+ - . * / < = > ! ? : $ % _ & ~ ^
See section 7.1.1 Lexical structure for a formal syntax of identifiers.
Identifiers have several uses within Scheme programs:
The following identifiers are syntactic keywords, and should not be used as variables:
=> do or and else quasiquote begin if quote case lambda set! cond let unquote define let* unquote-splicing delay letrec
Some implementations allow all identifiers, including syntactic keywords, to be used as variables. This is a compatible extension to the language, but ambiguities in the language result when the restriction is relaxed, and the ways in which these ambiguities are resolved vary between implementations.
Whitespace characters are spaces and newlines. (Implementations typically provide additional whitespace characters such as tab or page break.) Whitespace is used for improved readability and as necessary to separate tokens from each other, a token being an indivisible lexical unit such as an identifier or number, but is otherwise insignificant. Whitespace may occur between any two tokens, but not within a token. Whitespace may also occur inside a string, where it is significant.
A semicolon (;) indicates the start of a comment. The comment continues to the end of the line on which the semicolon appears. Comments are invisible to Scheme, but the end of the line is visible as whitespace. This prevents a comment from appearing in the middle of an identifier or number.
;;; The FACT procedure computes the factorial ;;; of a non-negative integer. (define fact (lambda (n) (if (= n 0) 1 ;Base case: return 1 (* n (fact (- n 1))))))
For a description of the notations used for numbers, see section 6.5 Numbers.