Haskell (programming language)

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Haskell
Logo of the Haskell programming language.svg
Paradigm Purely functional
Designed by Lennart Augustsson, Dave Barton, Brian Boutel, Warren Burton, Joseph Fasel, Kevin Hammond, Ralf Hinze, Paul Hudak, John Hughes, Thomas Johnsson, Mark Jones, Simon Peyton Jones, John Launchbury, Erik Meijer, John Peterson, Alastair Reid, Colin Runciman, Philip Wadler
First appeared1990;31 years ago (1990) [1]
Stable release
Haskell 2010 [2] / July 2010;10 years ago (2010-07)
Preview release
Haskell 2020 announced [3]
Typing discipline Inferred, static, strong
OS Cross-platform
Filename extensions .hs, .lhs
Website www.haskell.org
Major implementations
GHC, Hugs, NHC, JHC, Yhc, UHC
Dialects
Helium, Gofer
Influenced by
Clean, [4] FP, [4] Gofer, [4] Hope and Hope+, [4] Id, [4] ISWIM, [4] KRC, [4] Lisp, [4] Miranda, [4] ML and Standard ML, [4] Orwell, SASL, [4] Scheme, [4] SISAL [4]
Influenced
Agda, [5] Bluespec, [6] C++11/Concepts, [7] C#/LINQ, [8] [9] [10] [11] CAL,[ citation needed ] Cayenne, [8] Clean, [8] Clojure, [12] CoffeeScript, [13] Curry, [8] Elm, Epigram,[ citation needed ] Escher, [14] F#, [15] Frege, [16] Hack, [17] Idris, [18] Isabelle, [8] Java/Generics, [8] LiveScript, [19] Mercury, [8] Ωmega, PureScript, [20] Python, [8] [21] Raku, [22] Rust, [23] Scala, [8] [24] Swift, [25] Timber, [26] Visual Basic 9.0 [8] [9]

Haskell ( /ˈhæskəl/ [27] ) is a general-purpose, statically typed, purely functional programming language with type inference and lazy evaluation. [28] [29] Designed for teaching, research and industrial application, Haskell has pioneered a number of advanced programming language features such as type classes, which enable type-safe operator overloading. Haskell's main implementation is the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC). It is named after logician Haskell Curry. [1]

Contents

Haskell's semantics are historically based on those of the Miranda programming language, which served to focus the efforts of the initial Haskell working group. [30] The last formal specification of the language was made in July 2010, while the development of GHC has expanded Haskell via language extensions. The next formal specification was planned for 2020. [3] [ needs update ]

Haskell is used in academia and industry. [31] [32] As of May 2021, Haskell was the 28th most popular programming language in terms of Google searches [33] for tutorials and made up less than 1% of active users on the GitHub source code repository. [34]

History

Following the release of Miranda by Research Software Ltd. in 1985, interest in lazy functional languages grew. By 1987, more than a dozen non-strict, purely functional programming languages existed. Miranda was the most widely used, but it was proprietary software. At the conference on Functional Programming Languages and Computer Architecture (FPCA '87) in Portland, Oregon, there was a strong consensus that a committee be formed to define an open standard for such languages. The committee's purpose was to consolidate existing functional languages into a common one to serve as a basis for future research in functional-language design. [35]

Haskell 1.0 to 1.4

Type classes, which enable type-safe operator overloading, were first proposed by Philip Wadler and Stephen Blott for Standard ML but were first implemented in Haskell between 1987 and version 1.0. [36] [37]

The first version of Haskell ("Haskell 1.0") was defined in 1990. [1] The committee's efforts resulted in a series of language definitions (1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4).

Hierarchy of type classes in the Haskell prelude as of GHC 7.10. The inclusion of Foldable and Traversable (with corresponding changes to the type signatures of some functions), and of Applicative as intermediate between Functor and Monad, are deviations from the Haskell 2010 standard. Base-classes.svg
Hierarchy of type classes in the Haskell prelude as of GHC 7.10. The inclusion of Foldable and Traversable (with corresponding changes to the type signatures of some functions), and of Applicative as intermediate between Functor and Monad, are deviations from the Haskell 2010 standard.

Haskell 98

In late 1997, the series culminated in Haskell 98, intended to specify a stable, minimal, portable version of the language and an accompanying standard library for teaching, and as a base for future extensions. The committee expressly welcomed creating extensions and variants of Haskell 98 via adding and incorporating experimental features. [35]

In February 1999, the Haskell 98 language standard was originally published as The Haskell 98 Report. [35] In January 2003, a revised version was published as Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report. [29] The language continues to evolve rapidly, with the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC) implementation representing the current de facto standard. [38]

Haskell 2010

In early 2006, the process of defining a successor to the Haskell 98 standard, informally named Haskell Prime, began. [39] This was intended to be an ongoing incremental process to revise the language definition, producing a new revision up to once per year. The first revision, named Haskell 2010, was announced in November 2009 [2] and published in July 2010.

Haskell 2010 is an incremental update to the language, mostly incorporating several well-used and uncontroversial features previously enabled via compiler-specific flags.

Features

Haskell features lazy evaluation, lambda expressions, pattern matching, list comprehension, type classes and type polymorphism. It is a purely functional language, which means that functions generally have no side effects. A distinct construct exists to represent side effects, orthogonal to the type of functions. A pure function can return a side effect that is subsequently executed, modeling the impure functions of other languages.

Haskell has a strong, static type system based on Hindley–Milner type inference. Its principal innovation in this area is type classes, originally conceived as a principled way to add overloading to the language, [40] but since finding many more uses. [41]

The construct that represents side-effects is an example of a monad: a general framework which can model various computations such as error handling, nondeterminism, parsing and software transactional memory. They are defined as ordinary datatypes, but Haskell provides some syntactic sugar for their use.

Haskell has an open, published specification, [29] and multiple implementations exist. Its main implementation, the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC), is both an interpreter and native-code compiler that runs on most platforms. GHC is noted for its rich type system incorporating recent innovations such as generalized algebraic data types and type families. The Computer Language Benchmarks Game also highlights its high-performance implementation of concurrency and parallelism. [42]

An active, growing community exists around the language, and more than 5,400 third-party open-source libraries and tools are available in the online package repository Hackage. [43]

Code examples

A "Hello, World!" program in Haskell (only the last line is strictly necessary):

moduleMain(main)where-- not needed in interpreter, is the default in a module filemain::IO()-- the compiler can infer this type definitionmain=putStrLn"Hello, World!"

The factorial function in Haskell, defined in a few different ways:

-- [[Type signature|Type annotation]] (optional, same for each implementation)factorial::(Integrala)=>a->a-- Using recursion (with the "ifthenelse" expression)factorialn=ifn<2then1elsen*factorial(n-1)-- Using recursion (with pattern matching)factorial0=1factorialn=n*factorial(n-1)-- Using recursion (with guards)factorialn|n<2=1|otherwise=n*factorial(n-1)-- Using a list and the "product" functionfactorialn=product[1..n]-- Using fold (implements "product")factorialn=foldl(*)1[1..n]-- Point-free stylefactorial=foldr(*)1.enumFromTo1

As the Integer type has arbitrary-precision, this code will compute values such as factorial 100000 (a 456,574-digit number), with no loss of precision.

An implementation of an algorithm similar to quick sort over lists, where the first element is taken as the pivot:

-- Type annotation (optional, same for each implementation)quickSort::Orda=>[a]->[a]-- Using list comprehensionsquickSort[]=[]-- The empty list is already sortedquickSort(x:xs)=quickSort[a|a<-xs,a<x]-- Sort the left part of the list++[x]++-- Insert pivot between two sorted partsquickSort[a|a<-xs,a>=x]-- Sort the right part of the list-- Using filterquickSort[]=[]quickSort(x:xs)=quickSort(filter(<x)xs)++[x]++quickSort(filter(>=x)xs)

Implementations

All listed implementations are distributed under open source licenses. [44]

Implementations that fully or nearly comply with the Haskell 98 standard, include:

Implementations no longer actively maintained include:

Implementations not fully Haskell 98 compliant, and using a variant Haskell language, include:

Notable applications

Industry

Web

Notable web frameworks written for Haskell include: [58]

Criticism

Jan-Willem Maessen, in 2002, and Simon Peyton Jones, in 2003, discussed problems associated with lazy evaluation while also acknowledging the theoretical motives for it. [59] [60] In addition to purely practical considerations such as improved performance, [61] they note that, in addition to adding some performance overhead, lazy evaluation makes it more difficult for programmers to reason about the performance of their code (particularly its space use).

Bastiaan Heeren, Daan Leijen, and Arjan van IJzendoorn in 2003 also observed some stumbling blocks for Haskell learners: "The subtle syntax and sophisticated type system of Haskell are a double edged sword – highly appreciated by experienced programmers but also a source of frustration among beginners, since the generality of Haskell often leads to cryptic error messages." [62] To address these, researchers from Utrecht University developed an advanced interpreter called Helium, which improved the user-friendliness of error messages by limiting the generality of some Haskell features, and in particular removing support for type classes.

Ben Lippmeier designed Disciple [63] as a strict-by-default (lazy by explicit annotation) dialect of Haskell with a type-and-effect system, to address Haskell's difficulties in reasoning about lazy evaluation and in using traditional data structures such as mutable arrays. [64] He argues (p. 20) that "destructive update furnishes the programmer with two important and powerful tools ... a set of efficient array-like data structures for managing collections of objects, and ... the ability to broadcast a new value to all parts of a program with minimal burden on the programmer."

Robert Harper, one of the authors of Standard ML, has given his reasons for not using Haskell to teach introductory programming. Among these are the difficulty of reasoning about resource use with non-strict evaluation, that lazy evaluation complicates the definition of datatypes and inductive reasoning, [65] and the "inferiority" of Haskell's (old) class system compared to ML's module system. [66]

Haskell's build tool, Cabal, has historically been criticised for poorly handling multiple versions of the same library, a problem known as "Cabal hell". The Stackage server and Stack build tool were made in response to these criticisms. [67] Cabal itself now has a much more sophisticated build system, heavily inspired by Nix, [68] which became the default with version 3.0.

Clean is a close, slightly older relative of Haskell. Its biggest deviation from Haskell is in the use of uniqueness types instead of monads for I/O and side-effects.

A series of languages inspired by Haskell, but with different type systems, have been developed, including:

Other related languages include:

Notable Haskell variants include:

Conferences and workshops

The Haskell community meets regularly for research and development activities. The main events are:

Since 2006, a series of organized hackathons has occurred, the Hac series, aimed at improving the programming language tools and libraries. [69]

Related Research Articles

In computer science, functional programming is a programming paradigm where programs are constructed by applying and composing functions. It is a declarative programming paradigm in which function definitions are trees of expressions that map values to other values, rather than a sequence of imperative statements which update the running state of the program.

ML is a general-purpose functional programming language. It is known for its use of the polymorphic Hindley–Milner type system, which automatically assigns the types of most expressions without requiring explicit type annotations, and ensures type safety – there is a formal proof that a well-typed ML program does not cause runtime type errors. ML provides pattern matching for function arguments, garbage collection, imperative programming, call-by-value and currying. It is used heavily in programming language research and is one of the few languages to be completely specified and verified using formal semantics. Its types and pattern matching make it well-suited and commonly used to operate on other formal languages, such as in compiler writing, automated theorem proving, and formal verification.

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Standard ML (SML) is a general-purpose modular functional programming language with compile-time type checking and type inference. It is popular among compiler writers and programming language researchers, as well as in the development of theorem provers.

Clean (programming language)

Clean is a general-purpose purely functional computer programming language. For much of the language's active development history it was called Concurrent Clean, but this was dropped at some point. Clean is being developed by a group of researchers from the Radboud University in Nijmegen since 1987.

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The Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC) is an open-source native code compiler for the functional programming language Haskell. It provides a cross-platform environment for the writing and testing of Haskell code and it supports numerous extensions, libraries, and optimisations that streamline the process of generating and executing code. GHC is the most commonly used Haskell compiler. The lead developers are Simon Peyton Jones and Simon Marlow.

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Hope is a small functional programming language developed in the 1970s at the University of Edinburgh. It predates Miranda and Haskell and is contemporaneous with ML, also developed at the University. Hope was derived from NPL, a simple functional language developed by Rod Burstall and John Darlington in their work on program transformation. NPL and Hope are notable for being the first languages with call-by-pattern evaluation and algebraic data types.

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PureScript

PureScript is a strongly-typed, purely-functional programming language that compiles to JavaScript. It can be used to develop web applications, server side apps, and also desktop applications with use of Electron. Its syntax is mostly comparable to that of Haskell. In addition, it introduces row polymorphism and extensible records. Also, contrary to Haskell, PureScript adheres to a strict evaluation strategy.

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Further reading

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History