[Haskell-cafe] Haskell for the Enterprise (topic for a MSc dissertation?)

Hans van Thiel hthiel.char at zonnet.nl
Thu Aug 16 08:06:19 EDT 2007

On Wed, 2007-08-15 at 15:04 +0200, Lars Oppermann wrote:
> Hi All,
> This is my first post here, so I'll start with a quick introduction...
> I live and work in Hamburg, Germany. My day job is as a software
> engineer at Sun Microsystems at the OpenOffice.org development team
> where I'm mostly doing XML (ODF) related things. Beside of that, I'm
> currently pursuing an M.Sc degree in software engineering in a
> part-time post graduate program where I am now nearing the phase where
> I have to develop a topic for my dissertation.
> Apart from a little dabbling with Miranda during my undergraduate CS
> days I haven't touched functional programming ever since and have been
> doing Java, C# and C++ most of the time. However, I have over the last
> few month "fallen in love" with the great expressiveness offered by
> Haskell and through that have gained some great new perspectives and
> discovered new ways to think when writing programs. 
> Consequently, my idea to combine all of this into a topic for my
> dissertation is to write about the existing and potential benefits
> (and shortcomings) of a functional programming language for the
> development of typical enterprise applications (especially with
> regards to more and more concepts from functional programming being
> adopted in imperative languages). I would start off with an existing
> J2EE application, analyze the abstractions and patterns that it uses.
> I will then discuss similar and alternative abstractions and patterns
> available in functional programming which can be applied in order to
> solve the same problem in a functional setting, leveraging some
> existing infrastructure, such as HAppS. What would follow is a
> comparison of the two resulting applications from a software
> engineering standpoint: How maintainable are these implementations?
> How can they be tested? Can formal validation techniques be applied to
> parts of the functional implementation that can be used to establish
> its correctness. Maybe analysis of performance... 
> One of my potential supervisors for the dissertation has already
> indicated some interest in the topic so it all looks quite well to me.
> The overview that I gave above obviously needs much more elaboration,
> but as I said, I have just started developing topics. 
> I would love to hear your comments on this. Has this been done over
> and over already? Are there any source which you think of from the top
> of your head which I should check out? Books that you would want to
> recommend?
There is a lot of scientific literature, but not much has been done with
actual engineering in mind. There is no Red Hat, no Suse, no MontaVista
and there is no company sponsoring its development in a big way, like
Sun. It's not supported by any business consortium or even standardized
by any official group. But people are working on an O'Reilly book about
Haskell in practice (Real World Haskell). You might also want to read
the 'History of Haskell' which has a section on use in industry. Maybe
you could talk to some of those people.
What I know is that it is being deployed other than in open source, but
that fact is not being advertised in the marketing.

Maintainability should be excellent in Haskell,
due to the fine grained modularity without side effects.

Best Regards,

Hans van Thiel

> As I wrote above, I'm quite new to Haskell. Thus if anyone wants to
> recommend some readings specifically on the aspect of modeling in a
> functional environment I'd be happy to hear about that too.
> All the best, 
> Lars
> -- 
> Lars Oppermann
> Hamburg, Germany

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