[Haskell-cafe] More on performance

Luke Palmer lrpalmer at gmail.com
Wed Jun 4 06:05:52 EDT 2008

On Wed, Jun 4, 2008 at 9:48 AM, Loup Vaillant <loup.vaillant at gmail.com> wrote:
> I see a problem with this particular fusion, though: It changes the
> space complexity of the program, from linear to constant. Therefore,
> with some programs, relying on this "optimization" can be a matter of
> correctness, not just performance. Therefore, if it is not clear when
> the compiler will optimize this, I'd rather not use it. (A counter
> example is tail calls, which are rather easily deducible, at least in
> a strict context)

Haskell is not required to be lazy, only non-strict.  That is, Haskell
as a language is free to re-evaluate expressions bound in let clauses.
 This can change the time and space complexity of a program.

To me, time and space complexity is not about correctness but
performance.  Given unbounded time and space, you will still arrive at
the same result regardless of the complexity.  What makes the
asymptotic class more blessed than the associated constants?

However I still see your point.  If optimizations cannot be
guaranteed--the conditions under which they fire are brittle--then the
language can be yet harder to predict (which is not something Haskell
needs!).  It's hard to turn down an optimization which will
accidentally asymptotically improve your program, however.

I wonder what can be said about "stable" optimizations which are
insensitive to their environments in some sense.


More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list