[Haskell-cafe] Any precedent or plan for guaranteed-safe Eq and Ord instances?

Ryan Newton rrnewton
Sun Oct 6 21:18:56 UTC 2013

Thanks for the responses all.

I'm afraid the point about GHC.Generics got lost here.  I'll respond and
then rename this as a specific library proposal.

I don't want to fix the world's Eq instances, but I am ok with requiring
that people "derive Generic" for any data they want to put in an LVar
container.  (From which I can give them a SafeEq instance.)

It's not just LVish that is in this boat.... any library that tries to
provide deterministic parallelism outside of the IO monad has some very
fine lines to walk.  Take a look at Accelerate.  It is deterministic (as
long as you run only with the CUDA backend and only on one specific GPU...
otherwise fold topologies may look different and non-associative folds may
leak).  Besides, "runAcc" does a huge amount of implicit IO (writing to
disk, calling nvcc, etc)!  At the very least this could fail if the disk if
full.  But then again, regular "pure" computations fail when memory runs
out... so I'm ok grouping these in the same bucket for now.  "Determinism
modulo available resources."

A possible problem with marking "instance Eq" as an unsafe feature is that
> many modules would be only Trustworthy instead of Safe.

My proposal is actually more narrow than that.  My proposal is to mark
GHC.Generics as Unsafe.

That way I can define my own SafeEq, and know that someone can't break it
by making a Generic instance that lies.  It is very hard for me to see why
people should be able to make their own Generic instances (that might lie
about the structure of the type), in Safe-Haskell.

> That would go against my "every purely functional module is automatically
> safe because the compiler checks that it cannot launch the missiles"
> understanding of Safe Haskell.

Heh, that may already be violated by the fact that you can't use other
extensions like OverlappingInstances, or provide your own Typeable

> Actually, Eq instances are not unsafe per se, but only if I also use some
> other module that assumes certain properties about all Eq instances in
> scope. So in order to check safety, two independent modules (the provider
> and the consumer of the Eq instance) would have to cooperate.

I've found, that this is a very common problem that we have when trying to
make our libraries Safe-Haskell compliant -- often we want to permit and
deny combinations of modules.  I don't have a solution I'm afraid.
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