[Haskell] Comments from Brent Fulgham on Haskell and the shootout

Bulat Ziganshin bulat.ziganshin at gmail.com
Tue Jun 27 08:00:45 EDT 2006

Hello Simon,

Tuesday, June 27, 2006, 1:44:45 PM, you wrote:

> I wanted to write to inform you how shocked I was to see the great
> advances in performance in the Glorious Haskell Compiler over the  
> last year or so.  Of course, we have also benefited from some great  
> contributions by the folks on the Haskell-Cafe mailing list.

it's nice to read but completely false, you know. GHC don't improved
it's speed over last year, 6.4.2 differs from 6.4 only in reliability

source of this great progress is really work of Haskell fans,
especially Donald Bruce Stewart. moreover, i quickly scanned the tests
where GHC still far behind it's competition and in most cases speed is
determined by libraries. when ghc 6.6 with ByteString library included
will roll out, we will got higher marks in all those tests except for
mandelbrot, which really depends on compiler speed by itself. and in
this test we can see Clean and OCaml with gcc-like speed and GHC what
is 10 times slower. the only Haskell compiler that will be a great
performer here is JHC, i think

in all other tests speed is defined by libraries (as i see, Shootout
is more a test of bundled libs than compilers) or by hand-optimized
code for GHC comparing to the "normal", readable code for other
languages. what this proves? first, that libs is exceptionally
important for overall speed and interpreted language with fast
C-written libs (say, Tcl) may perform better than compiled language
like Haskell. second, that the naive implementations are very far from
optimum and hand-optimized program in slow language can easily
outperform naive program in fast one

this great progress in last year says much more about Haskell
community and, indirectly, about attractiveness of Haskell. it's a
really great language but don't say that GHC and GCC can be compared
on their speed

... this remembered me another important question. who is determined
which projects to include in Google SoC financing? i read the
proposals list and was very pleased by final choice of financed
projects - it's really what i consider as most important areas for
Haskell infrastructure growth - network, installation, byte strings,
data structures. the only two projects not supported that was
interesting for me, is about optimization - one about adding something
to speed up programs compiled by GHC (i don't remember exactly),
second - about further development of JHC. why these projects was not
selected? it were no students interested or these projects considered
as less important? can i next year participate in discussion/election
of projects that will be supported?

i want to say especially about JHC. we need to have GHC alternatives -
just because competition is best source of evolution. from my POV, jhc
is especially interesting as GHC alternative because it's the only
compiler oriented to optimized compilation. Hugs, nhc has other
directions of evolution (learning and debugging), while adding to jhc
modern language extensions should make it real GHC competition (and
jhc already generates native C code, so it will have at least one
substantial advantage over GHC)

Best regards,
 Bulat                            mailto:Bulat.Ziganshin at gmail.com

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