[Haskell-cafe] Re: Time constrained computation

Alexander Dunlap alexander.dunlap at gmail.com
Fri Aug 28 11:24:22 EDT 2009

On Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 6:01 AM, Mitar<mmitar at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi!
> Ups, missed save button and pressed send. ;-)
> So I am not really sure if this is correct term for it but I am open
> to better (search) terms.
> I am wondering if it is possible to make a time constrained
> computation. For example if I have a computation of an approximation
> of a value which can take more or less time (and you get more or less
> precise value) or if I have an algorithm which is searching some
> search-space it can find better or worse solution depending how much
> time you allow. So I would like to say to Haskell to (lazily, if it
> really needs it) get me some value but not to spend more than so much
> time calculating it.
> One abstraction of this would be to have an infinity list of values
> and I would like to get the last element I can get in t milliseconds
> of computational time.
> One step further would be to be able to stop computation not at
> predefined time but with some other part of the program deciding it is
> enough. So I would have a system which would monitor computation and a
> pure computation I would be able to stop. Is this possible? Is it
> possible to have a pure computation interrupted and get whatever it
> has computed until then?
> How could I make this? Is there anything already done for it? Some
> library I have not found?
> Of course all this should be as performance wise as it is possible.
> So the best interface for me would be to be able to start a pure
> computation and put an upper bound on computation time but also be
> able to stop it before that upper bound. And all this should be as
> abstracted as it is possible.
> Mitar
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In general, you need to do this either within the IO monad, to avoid
breaking referential transparency, or using unsafePerformIO, if you
know that your use of it is safe, which seems somewhat unlikely.

You may want to look at System.Timeout. Another possibility would be
the unamb package from Hackage.

Hope that helps,

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