[Haskell-cafe] Theoretical question: are side effects necessary?

Christopher Svanefalk christopher.svanefalk at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 13:23:11 CET 2012

Dear all,

there is a question I have been thinking about a bit. In short, we could
simply formulate it like this:

Are there any problems which *cannot *be solved a side effect-free language
(such as Haskell)? In other words, are there problems that would explicitly
demand semantics that can only be provided by a language allowing direct
modification of external state variables, such as Java and C++?

If not, are there problems which are simply *infeasible *to solve with a
side effect-free language?

I realize this question is very broad, and I am not expecting an exact
answer by any means. I am asking since I am curious about the relation
between functional and imperative/procedural languages in general. I
primarily come from a Java background, but I can program Haskell and
Erlang, and have recently started exploring Scala, so this would be
interesting to know.


Christopher Svanefalk

Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Gothenburg / Chalmers University of Technology
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