[Haskell-cafe] Re: [Haskell] ANNOUNCE: Haskell 2010 Report (final)

Simon Marlow marlowsd at gmail.com
Mon Jul 12 08:50:01 EDT 2010

On 12/07/2010 12:43, John Meacham wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 10:07:28AM +0100, Simon Marlow wrote:
>> The story we tentatively plan to provide in GHC 6.14.1 is a haskell2010
>> package that provides exactly the API specified by the report (by
>> definition, since the source was used to generate the report :-).  The
>> modules of haskell2010 overlap with base, so it will be impossible to
>> depend on both haskell2010 and base, without using non-portable
>> extensions like PackageImports.
> The way Jhc handles module overlap with packages is that it allows
> re-exporting modules from different libraries transparently, and reports
> conflicts lazily, as with normal haskell identifiers. For example, the
> 'haskell98' package might have a field 'Reexport-Modules:' with an entry
> 'Compat.Haskell98.Prelude as Prelude', meaning that if you pass
> -phaskell98 on the command line, you get a 'Prelude' that is
> transparently remapped to 'Compat.Haskell98.Prelude' under the scenes.
> This means that you can happily have both -phaskell98 and -phaskell2010
> and get access to all of both their modules because they have identical
> 'Prelude' modules so will both re-export the same underlying module
> (implemented in some common base package) and there will be no
> conflict reported. Just like it is okay if you import the same haskell
> function from two different modules as long as they refer to the same
> original function.
> Things are trickier if they do both -phaskell2010 and -pghc-base-3 since
> they conflict on some module names, there is nothing wrong with linking
> against both of them, but if you do an 'import Data.List' then a
> conflict will be reported as that particular module is different between
> the two. But if you only use the 'Prelude' or other modules that
> coincide, there will be no trouble.

Right.  I like the idea of packages being able to declare re-exported 
modules, indeed I considered doing this in GHC (when we needed base3) 
but decided not to mainly because we would still need PackageImports, 
and once you have PackageImports you can implement re-exports using 
that, albeit with more boilerplate.  The advantage of direct re-exports, 
as you say, is that it avoids a conflict when the module is imported. 
However, since some of the modules would conflict anyway, there didn't 
seem to be much advantage in avoiding the conflict in some cases but not 

> I think the ability for a package to define an 'interface' built up from
> other re-exported modules will be very useful going forward, I am not
> sure how hard something like that would be to implement in ghc, but it
> may be worth it in the future.

Isn't that what PackageImports lets you do?

>> I hadn't realised before, but this situation is better for portability,
>> because it discourages people from using base package modules in pure
>> Haskell 2010 code.  The downside is exactly the reverse: if you wanted
>> to use modules from base, then you don't get to use the pure Haskell
>> 2010 modules too (although the base versions are virtually identical at
>> the moment).
> I would worry that it would discourage people from using 'haskell2010'
> at all to some degree. Are there issues in ghc with one library being
> built on haskell2010 and another being built on base and a third wanting
> to use both of them? If not, then I don't think it will be too bad.

No, there's no problem with mixing packages in that way.

> The situation will be no worse than it is now, as it is, pretty
> much every library out there depends on 'base' making it theoretically
> incompatible with jhc. (in practice, most things compile just fine if I
> simply ignore the overly pedantic cabal dependencies and just add the
> obvious dependencies based on imports, aka, the franchise heuristic).

And hopefully things will improve over time, as fewer packages will need 
to depend on base.  We could also start pulling out APIs that are 
currently in base into separate packages, without actually pulling out 
the code - e.g. concurrency, and that would be a good way to migrate 
people away from depending on base, but without breaking everything.

> In the past I just had the boehm GC and the cross your fingers and hope
> static analysis can catch everything options. But as of 0.7.4 I have a
> real gc that I hope to make the new default in the next major release.
> (enabled with -fjgc on the command line)
> It is an accurate GC that is implemented in portable C. I am using
> something based on the paper 'Accurate garbage collection in an
> Uncooperative Environment'[1] though the technique was independently
> discovered. I always pass the GC parameter as the first argument to
> functions, which is mapped to the same register, so I effectively have a
> dedicated register without having to resort to a dedicated declared
> register in gcc. Plus I can omit the parameter in leaf functions that
> don't allocate and free up the register for normal use. I compile with
> -mregparm=2 on i386 so the first two arguments to a function get mapped
> to registers.
> I found that an independent shadow stack actually is faster than using
> the linked version described in the paper, (though, still passing around
> a pointer to the top of the stack as described), my theory being that
> taking the address of a stack allocated object will inhibit certain gcc
> optimizations.
> The underlying allocator is based on Bonwick's slab allocator[2] which
> works quite well for a haskell runtime, I have a slab for each type, so
> a slab of 'cons' cells, a slab of size 3 tuples, and so forth.
> [1] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=
> [2] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

Interesting.  This is quite a different set of decisions to the way GHC 
does things, so I look forward to comparing some benchmarks.  My 
intuition is that if allocation is anything more complicated than "reg 
+= size; if (reg > lim) { ... }" then you have a lot of work to do to 
make up for the overhead, but let's see!


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