[Haskell-cafe] Can Haskell outperform C++?

wren ng thornton wren at freegeek.org
Sat May 19 10:15:48 CEST 2012

On 5/16/12 4:37 PM, Gregg Lebovitz wrote:
> 1) Outstanding best practices documents that capture this knowledge and
> provides useful answers. Organizing this information in an online
> document that can be searched by keyword or index would be really
> helpful. The hard part will be maintaining it. As someone already
> pointed out the wiki entry on performance is already dated.

In light of that fact, and the general high-pace of innovation in 
Haskell, I think that rather than trying to keep a wiki up-to-date, it 
would probably be better to create a series of time-stamped "formal" 
documents--- like how HCAR is published.

The benefit of such an approach is two-fold. On the one hand, there's a 
date right there which shows when the contents were relevant (e.g., on 
which version of GHC one particular style performed better than 
another). On the other hand, when putting out the next issue/version the 
authors are forced to revisit the old content and ask whether it's still 
relevant or whether the tides have shifted; and if they're not willing 
to commit one way or another, the content can be dropped without eliding 
the fact (written in the previous issue) that it used to be an optimization.

Another thing I think is important is to give the actual reasons why 
some particular thing is an optimization, and more particularly why it 
is no longer an optimization once things have changed. A big issue I've 
run into with blog-posts etc on performance in Haskell is that there's a 
lot of folkloreism and just-so stories which tell people "just do X", 
without explaining how X differs from Y, why X is better or worse than 
Y, or the circumstances under which you may prefer Y to X. Without 
providing the details about why something is an 
optimization/pessimization, we don't provide users with the tools to 
figure things out for themselves in this everchanging world.

Live well,

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