When comparing Scheme vs F#, the Slant community recommends Scheme for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Scheme is ranked 8th while F# is ranked 30th. The most important reason people chose Scheme is:
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A *formal* specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern. Ultimately, everything looks something like this: (func a b c) This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow: (if cond then-clause else-clause) or even primitive operations like `define` and `set`: (define foo 10) (set! foo 11) This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Simple syntax
Scheme syntax is extremely regular and easy to pick up. A formal specification of the syntax fits onto just a few pages; it can be introduced informally in a paragraph or two. Students are not distracted by remembering how to write if statements or loops or even operator precedence because every syntactic follows the same pattern.
Ultimately, everything looks something like this:
(func a b c)
This includes not only user-defined functions but even control flow:
(if cond then-clause else-clause)
or even primitive operations like
(define foo 10) (set! foo 11)
This means that nothing really has special syntactic treatment in the language. There are essentially no weird edge-cases to memorize, and different concepts are given a more equal weight in the language. (Unlike Algol-like languages which tend to given undue weight to loops and assignment statements, for example.)
Pro No Magic - it's clear how everything works
Scheme has far less built into the language itself, helping students see that things like OOP are not magical: they are just patterns for organizing code. Everything in Scheme is built up from a very small set of primitives which compose in a natural and intuitive fashion.
Having a language that does not accord many things special status helps keep students open minded. This will help students later go between different languages and paradigms from procedural to object-oriented to functional.
Pro Great at teaching fundamental programming ideas
Scheme teaches the important, fundamental ideas immediately without the distraction of unnecessary syntax or language features.
Pro Great, well known textbooks
There is a set of very strong textbooks introducing CS and programming using Scheme. These books are available for free online.
The most famous example--and one of the most famous CS books full stop--is Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs usually known as SICP. This book introduces fundamental ideas in computer science and covers an incredible amount of material quickly and clearly without requiring any prior knowledge.
However, some people find SICP a bit challenging as a first text. Happily, there are other more introductory texts as well. Simply Scheme is a book designed to be read before SICP, easing beginners into the language as well as CS and programming in general. How to Design Programs is another text used in introductory college courses.
Pro Robust metaprogramming
The quotation functionality of Lisp allow for extremely powerful, yet syntactically straightforward metaprogramming via macros. This is more powerful than the C preprocessor while being less involved than something like Template Haskell or F# quotations.
Using macros to properly decompose a problem domain teaches new developers good habits, improving composibility and reliability when tackling large programs. Scheme metaprogramming also serves as a gentle introduction to domain specific languages.
Unlike most languages, Scheme actually accords both functional programming and imperative programming roughly equal status. Many other languages like Python and Java are staunchly imperative while SML and Haskell are primarily functional; Scheme is a nice middle ground.
Additionally, since Scheme syntax is extremely flexible, it can easily be re-purposed for teaching non-deterministic and logic programming. There is no need to learn a new language like Prolog when the same ideas can easily be expressed with Scheme syntax.
This gives students a good perspective on different ways to think about and organize programs, which makes it much easier to move forward to other languages and technologies.
Pro Concise syntax
F#'s syntax tends to be terse while remaining very readable and easy to understand without being a chore to write.
Pro Easier transition from other paradigms
Since F# is not a purely functional language, it lends itself to being more easily picked up by programmers that have experience with other paradigms.
Pro .NET Interoperability
Since F# runs on the Common Language Runtime or CLR, it has access to the entire .NET Framework, as well as libraries written in other .NET languages such as C#, VB.NET, and C++/CLI.
Pro Natively supported by Visual Studio
This is a .Net language natively supported by Visual Studio. Though it is not as tooled up as C# the support is still substantial. In particular, C# deployment scenarios can be enabled for it with small C# wrapper projects. Integration with Visual Studio provides: IntelliSense, debugging, projects an other features.
Pro Multiplatform, it runs on .Net Core
Forget Xamarin and Mono. F# now runs on the multiplatform .Net Core!
Pro You can run F# in the browser
Pro F# is supported by Xamarin
Thanks to Xamarin, F# is a functional language that you can use to build for iOS, Android and Windows.
Pro Fall into the pit of success
F# directs you into a workflow where the right way is the path of least resistance.
Coming from a C# background, its restrictions might feel arbitrary at first (e.g., what do you mean my code has to be in dependency order!? Arbitrary alphabetical or bust!), but you'll soon realize that your code is cohesive, concise and consistent in a way that it never was before - and you can compile and run with confidence!
Con Little Job Market
There are little to none jobs searching for a Scheme programmer. The ones that exist are more related to Research in Maths or Artificial Intelligence.
Con Fragmented ecosystem
Scheme is an IEEE standard, not an implementation. Unfortunately, the standard is too minimal and practical implementations have diverged--they had to expand on the standard to get anything done, but did so in incompatible ways.
The later de facto standard R6RS tried to correct this, but lost Scheme's minimalist elegance in the process. The newer R7RS standard takes the best of both worlds with an elegant minimalist core and a practical standard library.
Con Very different semantics from mainstream programming languages
Con A language that is purely academic
If someone said "I am starting a project in Scheme" then they are either talking about their homework or they are starting a joke.
Con Has no ad-hoc polymorphism (á la Type Classes)
You have generics, you have interfaces, you have inheritance, you have a lot of things at your disposal but you don't have Type Clases. They can be emulated using some clever constructs but there's nothing like having the real thing.