Paul Graham

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Paul Graham

Paul Graham (b, 1964) is a Lisp programmer and essayist. He is the author of On Lisp (1993) and ANSI Common Lisp (1995).

Graham has worked as a consultant to the US Department of Energy, DuPont, and Interleaf. He has an A.B. from Cornell and a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard, and studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

In 1995 he founded Viaweb with friends Trevor Blackwell and Robert Morris. Viaweb's flagship product (written largely in Common Lisp) let users make their own Internet stores. In the summer of 1998 Viaweb was sold to Yahoo! for 455,000 shares of Yahoo! stock, valued at $49,000,000. [1] (http://docs.yahoo.com/docs/pr/release184.html) At Yahoo! the product became Yahoo! Store. Prior to this success, Graham and Morris created Artix, a business offering web services to art galleries.

He has since begun writing essays for his popular website paulgraham.com. His work ranges from "Beating the Averages (http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html)", which compares Lisp to other programming languages, to "Why Nerds are Unpopular (http://paulgraham.com/nerds.html)", a discussion of nerd life in high school. A collection of his essays has been published as Hackers and Painters (ISBN 0596006624) by O'Reilly.

He has also announced that he is working on the Arc language, a Lisp dialect for talented programmers. As part of his work on Arc, he began developing an email client and decided it needed a good spam filter. His work resulted in the article "A Plan for Spam (http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html), which helped popularize the naive Bayes classifier as a spam filter.

In 2005 he and his Viaweb co-founders decided to start Y Combinator to provide seed funding to promising startup companies. Their first project is the Summer Founders Program, aimed at university students and recent graduates, which incorporates and funds small companies over the summer.

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