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

Mike Meyer mwm at mired.org
Fri Aug 28 16:46:43 UTC 2015

On Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM Silvio Frischknecht <
silvio.frischi at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> In my opinion, Haskell is a terrible first language to learn.
> It has a very complicated type-system, and it's restriction to purely
> functional programming does not convey very well how (current) computers
> work. Current computers work by you giving them an step by step guide
> what to do. This I think is what should be at the base of any
> beginners-programming course.

I have to disagree, and for much the same reason that Nicola does: these
details matter if you're teaching computer architecture, but not if you are
teaching programming. At least, not in an introductory course.

> Python would by my language of choice. You won't have to worry about low
> level stuff or typing, but can still write those step by step programs.

Python is a good language if you want an imperative language, but like
Haskell it isn't a good choice for teaching computer architecture. For
instance, computers manipulate values in a store. But Python and Haskell
work with labels on values. A Python assignment statement doesn't change
the value in storage as a computer would, but puts a label on a value.
Manipulating storage is as fundamental to common computers as sequential
operation, so if you're going to drop Haskell for not having one, you
should also drop Python for not having the other.
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