[Haskell-cafe] Byte Histogram

Evan Laforge qdunkan at gmail.com
Sat Feb 5 07:09:13 CET 2011

On Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 3:38 PM, Erik de Castro Lopo
<mle+hs at mega-nerd.com> wrote:
> I am a relative newcomer to Haskell, but I think I have a reasonable
> understanding of the executaion model. Enough to fix performance
> issues in simple code like the example given.
> However, one of the Haskell projects I work on is Ben Lippmeier's
> DDC compiler. Thats about 50000 lines of Haskell code and finding
> performance issues there is really difficult.

Lately I've been trying to go the other direction: make a large
section of formerly strict code lazy.  I fully agree that once code
size gets big these problems get a lot harder.  You have to be very
careful passing around state that you don't do anything that causes
too much to be evaluated at the wrong time.  E.g., you can put back
the final result of a mapAccumL into a StateT but you want to make
sure it doesn't get looked at until the output of the mapAccumL would
be evaluated.  Even something seemingly innocuous like bundling it
into a newtype will cause the mapAccumL to run over the entire list
and evaluate a bunch of stuff too early and probably wind up with a
bunch of lag.  And the only way I can think of to find out what order
these things are running is to throw and infinite list and see if they
hang or put in a bunch of unsafePerformIO logging... not very
satisfying in either case, especially when trying to inspect things
can change the evaluation order.

Sometimes I wonder what this would look like if I were generating
incremental output with python yields... while getting the data
dependencies right is essential in any case, I'm suspicious it would
be easier to think about and understand in a strict language.

But there's definitely a knack to be learned, and I think I might
eventually get better at it.  For example, I realized that the
criteria to make something non-strict wrt data dependency are the same
as trying to parallelize.  Sometimes it's easier to think "what do I
have to do to make these two processes run in parallel" and that's the
same thing I have to do to make them interleave with each other

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