Pico (programming language)

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See also Pico (disambiguation).

Pico is a programming language developed at the PROG lab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The language was created to introduce the essentials of programming to non computer science students.

Pico can be seen as an effort to generate a palatable and enjoyable language for people who do not want to study hard for the elegance and power of a language. They have done it by adapting Scheme's semantics.

While designing Pico, the PROG lab was inspired by the Abelson and Sussman's book "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs". Furthermore, they were influenced by the teaching of programming at high school or academic level.

Pico should be interpreted as 'small', the idea was to create a small language for educational purposes.


Language Elements


Comments are surrounded by backquotes ("`").


Variables are dynamically typed; pico uses static scope.

var: value


Functions are first-class objects in Pico. They can be assigned to variables. For example a function with two parameters param1 and param2 can be defined as

func(param1, param2): ...

Functions can be called with the following syntax:

func(arg1, arg2)


Operators can be used as prefix or infix in Pico:

+(5, 2)
5 + 2

Data Types

Pico has the following types: string, integer, real and tables.

It does not have a native char type, so users should resort to size 1 strings.

Tables are compound datastructures that may contain any of the regular datatypes.

Boolean types are represented by functions (as in lambda calculus).

Control Structures

Conditional Evaluation

Only the usual if statement is included

if(condition, then, else)

Code Snippets

display('Hello World', eoln)
max(a, b):
 if(a < b, b, a)
`http://www.paulgraham.com/accgen.html `
foo(n): fun(i): n := n+i


Mac OS / Mac OS X




External links

Personal tools

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