The form eval takes an LFE data structure and evaluates it as an expression and then returns the value:

lfe> (eval 15)
lfe> (eval '(+ 1 2 3 4))
lfe> (eval '(list 'a 'b 'c))
(a b c)

Using eval is one way way to merge lists and code. However, it is not a very good way:

  • It is inefficient as the input expression is evaluated by the LFE interpreter, lfe_eval. This is much slower than running compiled code.

  • The expression is evaluated without a lexical context. So calling eval inside a let does not allow the evaluated expression to refer to variables bound by the let:

lfe> (set expr '(* x y))                   ; Expression to evaluate
(* x y)
lfe> (let ((x 17) (y 42)) (eval expr))
exception error: #(unbound_symb x)

Well, this is not quite true. If we "reverse" the code and build a let expression which imports and binds the variables and then call eval on it we can access the variables:

lfe> (eval (list 'let (list (list 'x 17) (list 'y 42)) expr))