[Haskell-cafe] Updating the Haskell Standard

robert dockins robdockins at fastmail.fm
Mon Jul 25 09:41:13 EDT 2005

John Goerzen wrote:
> There was a brief discussion on #haskell today about the Haskell
> standard.  I'd like to get opinions from more people, and ask if there
> is any effort being done in this direction presently.
> I think an updated standard is overdue.  I find it difficult anymore to
> write any but the most trivial of programs using pure Haskell 98.


This is perhaps a minor point, but if a serious new standardization 
effort were to emerge, I would like to see the formal semantics of 
Haskell firmed up a little.  The Haskell 98 report does a pretty good 
job, but it fails to specify an explicit abstract term language for the 
Haskell kernel, and doesn't (in my opinion) do a satisfactory job of 
supplying formal semantics for the IO monad (this one's tough; perhaps 
via a transform to the pi-calculus?).  It obviously doesn't even touch 
the semantics of extensions like implicit parameters, multi-parameter 
typeclasses (straightforward, but...), existential types or the STM monad.

A serious effort in this area might allow practical interoperability 
between pluggable Haskell frontends (parsing, typechecking, desugaring, 
template expansion) and backends (optimization, code gen, linking) which 
interface via something that looks a lot like external core, as well as 
making Haskell more amenable to formal verification.

Robert Dockins

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