deeqSeq proposal

Simon Peyton-Jones simonpj at
Tue Apr 11 04:53:54 EDT 2006

| Any function that is not defineable in (pure) Haskell should be viewed
| with utmost suspicion.  The seq function is one of these.  At least
| seq has simple denotational semantics, which can't be said for
| I say, put deepSeq in a type class (which is what I've done when I
| it).

The whole *point* is that deepSeq is (dynamically) idempotent: deepSeq
(deepSeq x) = deepSeq x.  Its denotational behaviour is perfectly
definable in Haskell, but its operational behaviour is not.  That is
both attractive (because it means you feel less anxious about wasting
work with deepSeq) and repellent (because it constrains the
implementation, as John points out).

Whether it should be in a class is a rather separate discussion.  In a
way we already sold out when we allowed seq to escape from the
type-class world.  Perhaps deepSeq is worse (because it traverses data
structures) but not obviously. 


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