[Haskell-cafe] Announce: Probablistic programming in Haskell with bali-phy

Sergiu Ivanov sivanov at colimite.fr
Tue Jun 13 16:30:55 UTC 2017

Hello Benjamin,

Thus quoth  Benjamin Redelings  at 15:47 on Tue, Jun 13 2017:
> I'm working on a project to implement support for probabilistic
> programming with models written as Haskell programs.  This is similar to
> Bayesian graphical models (e.g. BUGS, JAGS) and to full probabilistic
> programming systems like Church / Venture.
>      http://www.bali-phy.org/models.php

This project looks very interesting to me and seems to be a result of an
impressive amount of work!  Thank you for the announcement.

> Probabilistic programs are written using the probability monad.
> I've implemented a Haskell interpreter in C++ that records execution
> traces of the Haskell programs.

Is your probability monad an actual monad that you implemented in a
Haskell package, or is it a consequence of the fact that you are running
Haskell-like programs in your interpreter?

More generally: how deep can the interoperability between your project
and some other Haskell code go?

> These execution traces depend on some number of (random) variables,
> and when one of the variables is changed (during MCMC), the parts of
> the execution trace that depend on the changed variables are
> invalidated and recomputed.  This saves work by not recomputing the
> probability of the new state from scratch.  I can provide DOT graphs
> of the execution traces if anyone is interested.

That sounds really cool!

> The problem domain I've been focusing on is evolution of DNA sequences
> on binary trees.

I'm very much interested in your project because I often look into
non-deterministic evolution of some abstract computing devices, and you
actually seem to be focusing on a similar use case.

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