[Haskell-cafe] Re: Why can't Haskell be faster?

Stefan Holdermans stefan at cs.uu.nl
Thu Nov 1 07:04:51 EDT 2007

Neil wrote:

> The Clean and Haskell languages both reduce to pretty much
> the same Core language, with pretty much the same type system, once
> you get down to it - so I don't think the difference between the
> performance is a language thing, but it is a compiler thing. The
> uniqueness type stuff may give Clean a slight benefit, but I'm not
> sure how much they use that in their analyses.

 From what I know from the Nijmegen team, having the uniqueness  
information available and actually using it for code generation does  
allow for an impressive speed-up.

The thing is: in principle, there is, I think, no reason why we can't  
do the same thing for Haskell.  Of course, the Clean languages  
exposes uniqueness types at its surface level, but that is in no way  
essential to the underlying analysis.  Exposing uniqueness types is,  
in that sense, just an alternative to monadic encapsulation of side  
effects.  So, a Haskell compiler could just implement a uniqueness  
analysis under the hood and use the results for generating code that  
does in-place updates that are guaranteed to maintain referential  

Interestingly---but now I'm shamelessly plugging a paper of Jurriaan  
Hage, Arie Middelkoop, and myself, presented at this year's ICFP  
[*]---such an analysis is very similar to sharing analysis, which may  
be used by compilers for lazy languages to avoid unnecessary thunk  



[*] Jurriaan Hage, Stefan Holdermans, and Arie Middelkoop. A generic  
usage analysis with subeffect qualifiers. In Ralf Hinze and Norman  
Ramsey, editors, Proceedings of the 12th ACM SIGPLAN International  
Conference on Functional Programming, ICFP 2007, Freiburg, Germany,  
October 1–-3, pages 235–-246. ACM Press, 2007. http://doi.acm.org/ 

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