[Haskell-cafe] Re: Haskell in Industry

Tom Hawkins tomahawkins at gmail.com
Thu Aug 5 22:58:15 EDT 2010

Hi Eil,

Sorry, your email got lost in my inbox.  I hope you don't mind me
copying haskell-cafe.

> I saw a video of a presentation you gave at CUFP awhile back and was
> hoping to ask you a couple of questions.

> I'm currently a junior at UT Dallas and trying to figure out what I'm
> going to do after finishing undergrad.  For the past two years or so one
> of my main interests has been language implementations.  It's something
> that I'd like to continue to work with.  For a long time I thought I
> wanted to stay in academia and do research, but recently I've realized
> that I'm more interested in applying these advanced programming
> languages to real-world problems, such as what you have done with the
> Atom DSL.

Good, we need more functional programmers actually solving real
problems.  But please put your skills to work in an industry other
than investment banking.

> So, I'm curious about your experiences with functional programming in
> industry.
> Have you found it hard to get companies interested in Haskell?

Yes, it is very hard.  But it can also be very easy.

The best approach is to find a job or industry that does not already
have a large software  component, but desperately needs one.  This was
the reason Haskell was successful at Eaton.  Though Eaton is a huge
company, this particular division had surprisingly few software
developers, and even fewer managers who understood software
development.  In short, there was no one to question the move to

IMO, the biggest obstacle to Haskell are programmers -- especially
shear numbers of them.

> Is it difficult to hire good programmers for a less mainstream language?

No.  Every time I put a call out for resumes, I've gotten several
candidates that would have fit the bill.  The problem has been
convincing my management to interview these leads.

> Have you had any trouble training people to use Haskell?

Yes.  I find that out of 10 people I train, only about 2 pick it up
and run with it.  I'm starting to believe you are either wired for
functional programming, or you're not.

> Do many of the engineers using Haskell at Eaton have advanced degrees?

Actually most of Eaton's Haskell programmers do not have advanced
degrees; myself included.  In fact one of our most successful
programmers was an automotive technician in his previous job.  This
supports my hypothesis that your functional programming aptitude is
determined at birth.

Best of luck with the job hunt.  If by chance Eaton starts hiring
again, I'll give you a ping.


More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list