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

Adrian Hey ahey at iee.org
Wed Oct 31 08:09:14 EDT 2007

Paulo J. Matos wrote:
> Hello all,
> I, along with some friends, have been looking to Haskell lately. I'm
> very happy with Haskell as a language, however, a friend sent me the
> link:
> http://shootout.alioth.debian.org/gp4/
> which enables you compare several language implementations. Haskell
> seems to lag behind of Clean.
>>From what I've seen of Clean it seems almost like Haskell. It even
> distributes a Haskell->Clean translator so the obvious question is,
> why is Haskell slower?
> Being similar languages and being GHC a very good compiler, can't it
> get at least as fast as Clean?
> What am I missing here? (I wrote this mail assuming the results from
> the URL are trustworthy).

I don't know for certain that this is still the case (and if so why).
But I do remember that when I was a Clean user a few years ago both
the Clean compiler and the resulting executables were amazingly fast
(certainly by FPL standards).

I've often thought it's a real shame that two different but very
similar languages exist. I think that the Clean compiler would
be one of the best if not *the* best Haskell implementations available,
apart from minor snag that it isn't Haskell at all :-)

As things are at the moment ghc has no serious competition so we don't
really know how fast it "should be". Maybe this will change in future.

BTW, the reason I still jumped ship in the end and became a Haskell
user instead had nothing to do with performance. The reason was that if
I was going to invest a lot of time in progs/libs I wanted to have some
confidence I'd made the right choice long term and I had issues with the
Clean approach to concurrency (what the Clean folk call "deterministic
concurrency"). I didn't (and still don't) see this as viable, but during
a long and heated flame war on the Clean mailing list it became clear
that the Clean team did not agree with my point of view, so things
were not likely to change any time soon :-(

Adrian Hey

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