[Haskell] Re: comment on language shootout

Isaac Gouy igouy2 at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 13 22:25:13 EST 2004

On 18/06/2004, André Pang wrote:
> Yeah.  Language shootouts are nearly worthless.  (And I say that as
> experienced Haskell programmer who uses and loves Objective-C and
> for his day job, which are rather different beasts to Haskell.)  I 
> groaned when I heard that the shootout was revived, because I didn't 
> think they'd improve on the "benchmarks" used to test the various 
> languages, and they haven't.  I can't really be bothered emailing
> about the fallacies involved because it's just too tedious to
> and I'm sure they're convinced they're doing a good deed to the

Your contempt for disclaimers was so convincing that we removed them
all. We kept what was always true: "Our goals are to learn about new
languages, compare them in various (possibly meaningless) ways and,
most importantly, have some fun!"

If you can't be bothered helping to improve the "benchmarks" whine as 
much as you like - it's cheap and it changes nothing. Or think of a
good 'lookup' benchmark that makes some sense for both functional and
imperative languages (the 'hashtable' benchmark is too bad).

> About the only good they serve is to show programmers that there are 
> other languages out there, which some people may like to explore.  
> ("Oooo, what's this O'Caml language?  Seems to be doing OK in the 
> speed tests ...") 

Yes, name recognition is important - which is why the website now shows
language names, not just language implementation names.

> They're also good for compiler implementors to find 
> pathological speed cases in their compiler.  That's about it.

I've been pleasantly surprised that the simplistic performance
measurements on the Shootout have been enough to motivate
implementation improvements. That's a pretty cool outcome.


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