[Haskell-cafe] Stone age programming for space age hardware?

Matthias Guedemann matthias.guedemann at ovgu.de
Tue Jun 8 03:43:28 EDT 2010


> The real reason behind my surprise was, that I was wondering how more 
> modern languages could make inroads into such an environment. Haskell 
> without recursion and dynamic memory allocation? Hard to imagine.

for some safety critical applications that require certification, SCADE with the
underlying Lustre language is used. It has formal semantics and some properties
can be checked with automatic verification (up to linear arithmetic).

The Lustre dataflow programs are then transformed to C (or Ada), by compiling to
automata and representing those in C. This transformation is realized in Ocaml
afaik. I think these kind of transformations, maybe specifying an embedded DSL
instead of using a language like Lustre resulting in C with static bounds
etc. could be a way to use Haskell. But anything using dynamic memory
allocation, GC etc. is dangerous for real-time bounds. These programs also often
run on old "outdated", but reliable HW for which mainly C compilers exist. The 
used standards only allow a certain set of programming languages (or subsets of
these languages) and you even have to use "proved and tested" compilers and

> I have a hunch that the real restrictions of this kind of software are 
> not concerned with fixed memory, iterations, whatever, but rather with 
> guaranteed bounds. If that is indeed the case, how feasible would it be 
> to prove relevant properties for systems programmed in Haskell?

I think proving the correct transformation of some input language to static C
using Haskell is possible. Functional languages like Haskell or Ocaml in the
case of SCADE are well suited to this, due to lack of loops, side effects etc.

I think "atom" is such a DSL embedded into Haskell that can generate code for
real-time systems.


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