[Haskell-cafe] Serialization of (a -> b) and IO a

Alberto G. Corona agocorona at gmail.com
Thu Nov 11 04:00:14 EST 2010

nstance Read (F a) where read str= eval str >>= F str


2010/11/11 Alberto G. Corona <agocorona at gmail.com>

> There are some straighforward tricks using the package eval (or hint)l.
> This is more or less the idea in pseudocode:
> type FuncExpr= String
> data F a = F FuncExpr a
> apply (F _ f) x= f x
> instance Show (F a) where show (F str _)= str
> instance Read (F a) where read (F str f)= eval f >>= F str
> 2010/11/11 Jesse Schalken <jesseschalken at gmail.com>
>>  Is it possible to serialize and deserialize a function to/from binary
>> form, perhaps using Data.Binary, for example? What about an IO action? If
>> so, is there a way the serialized representation could
>> be architecture-independent?
>> I have been shown how useful it can be to store functions inside data
>> structures, and while looking at data serialization for the purpose of
>> persistence I wondered "since functions are just values in Haskell, why
>> can't we persist them, too?".
>> To me the idea has interesting implications. For example, an arbitrary
>> program could simply be represented by a serialization of `IO ()`. In fact,
>> you could load any program into memory from a file and use
>> Control.Concurrent.forkIO to run it, and later kill it, giving you the
>> beginnings of an operating environment. If such a serialization
>> is architecture independent then to my understanding you have the beginnings
>> of a virtual machine. You could break your program into pieces and store
>> them in a database and load them when needed, or even pull updates to each
>> piece individually from down the web etc, enabling interesting methods of
>> software distribution. It would make very cool stuff possible.
>> I have had a look at hs-plugins, but it is unclear how to derive a simple
>> pair of functions `(a -> b) -> ByteString` and `ByteString -> Either
>> ParseError (a -> b)`, for example, from the functionality it provides, if it
>> is possible at all. I guess such a thing requires thorough digging into the
>> depths of GHC, (or maybe even LLVM if
>> an architecture independent representation is sought, but I don't know
>> enough to say.). Perhaps this is more a question for those interested and
>> knowledgable in Haskell compilation (and, to some extent, decompilation).
>> If not Haskell, are there any languages which provide a simple
>> serialization and deserialization of functions?
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