Haskell polemic,...

Jerzy Karczmarczuk karczma@info.unicaen.fr
Tue, 03 Apr 2001 13:14:22 +0100

Brian Boutel wrote:
> Jerzy Karczmarczuk wrote:
> > 2. You neglect, and I suspect that you do it on purpose, that the
> >    main driving force behind the evolution of Haskell is *RESEARCH*.
> >    An issue absent from many "popular" languages which are meant to
> >    be immediately exploitable with very flat learning curve.
> This is not what is said in the Preface to the Haskell Report.
> "It was decided that a committee should be formed to design such a
> language, providing faster communication of new ideas, a stable
> foundation for real applications development, and a vehicle through
> which others would be encouraged to use functional languages."
> And the first goal:
> "1.It should be suitable for teaching, research, and applications,
> including building large systems."
> I think it is fair to say that Haskell has not been as successful in
> achieving its goals as we would have liked. Tbe points made about
> libraries are good ones. The problem seems to be the lack of
> well-coordinated, well-funded, development resources

What is not said in the Preface?

That the research factor is rather weak (if present at all) in the
development of *other* mentioned languages?

This, and only this was my point here. Research is consuming human
resources. The Python (Perl) world may concentrate more actively on
producing new scripts, interfaces, etc. I cannot be sure, but I doubt
very strongly that the FP community will devote too much attention
to the marketing issues (say, forcing some people to produce Hugs01.02,
Hugs01.03, Hugs01.04, etc. every month, just to prove that Hugs is
better and progressing faster than Word Perfect).

[[Btw. I read the words "stable foundation" there in the cited 
  fragment of the Preface]].

The Preface says that the language should be suitable... etc. Still,
the main driving force behind its evolution UNTIL NOW was research.
With growing number of Gurus who leave academic institutions, and
should adapt to the "real world", the situation may change fast, and
I sincerely hope so, but comparing the First Goal of the Preface
with the historical evolution of our favourite language is like
comparing the First Article (or the First Ammendment) of a typical
nice Constitution, with the historical evolution of the concerned
country. It takes some time before the correspondence between the
two becomes real.

The implementors should work on improving the quality of the code. 
But the question of libraries is more complicated, without an active
demand of the users, the idea of producing just the basic set is
the only possible. Almost all great scientific software libraries in 
the world grew up by a long distillation and optimization process from
concrete *user* packages. On the other hand, if some non-users 
prefer just to criticize...

Jerzy Karczmarczuk
Caen, France