[Haskell-cafe] Why Haskell is beautiful to the novice

Olaf Klinke olf at aatal-apotheke.de
Thu Aug 27 21:08:09 UTC 2015

Dear cafe, 

please correct me if questions like this should not go via this mailing list. 
Presumably everyone on this list agrees that Haskell stands out as a beautiful and pleasant language to have. The recent nitpicking and real-world problems like cabal hell don't change that. However, statements supporting Haskell's beauty usually involve: "In Haskell it is so much clearer/easier/faster to ... than in another language." That is, the beauty of Haskell presents itself to those who can compare it to other imperative or not strongly typed languages that one learned before Haskell. 
My question is, for what reason should anyone not acquainted with any programming language find Haskell beautiful? Maybe it does not look beautiful at all to the novice. The novice can not draw on the comparison, unless he takes the effort to learn more than one language in parallel. The novice likely also does not have the mathematical background to see the beautiful correspondence between the language and its semantics. (My reason to love FP is because it is executable domain theory.) One might argue that it is not the language itself that is beautiful, but rather the concepts (data structures, algorithms, recursion) and Haskell does a great job to preserve their beauty into the implementation. Do you agree? 

Disclaimer: I am about to start teaching a first course in computer science in secondary school. I can teach whatever I want, since this is the first CS course the school ever had. I want to teach beautiful things. I love functional programming. I need not start teaching programming right away. But I am reluctant to expose the pupils to something whose beauty escapes them completely. 

-- Olaf

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