[Haskell] Haskell as a disruptive technology?

John Hughes rjmh at cs.chalmers.se
Mon Mar 27 09:25:17 EST 2006

Dusan Kolar wrote:

> Malcolm Wallace wrote:
>> Paul Johnson <paul at cogito.org.uk> wrote:
>>> Is there a market that is poorly served by the incumbent languages for
>>> which Haskell would be an absolute godsend?
>> Yes.  Safety critical systems, encompassing everything from avionics to
>> railway signalling equipment, to medical devices.  These markets are
>> relatively small / low-volume, with needs for high assurance, and better
>> development times.
> Well, the market is growing and not that small. ;-) Think of mobile 
> phones and cars, for instance, they are "full" of embedded computers.

Mobile phones are a big market, but they are not safety critical. In 
fact, you can make a phone which crashes quite often and still sell it 
successfully (as I know to my cost!). Low power (==long battery life) is 
probably more important for phone software. Here execution time is 
strongly correlated with energy use, but things like compacting garbage 
collection can actually help--you can turn off part of your memory after 
a GC and save the leakage current. I think low power functional 
programming could be very interesting, but we certainly have no good 
story on this point at the moment.

Car components are commodities and sold under extreme price pressure. 
Because volumes are high, the price per unit is all that matters, and 
there is typically no way to charge for software at all--it's assumed 
that the subcontractor develops it as part of the development cost of 
the component. Maybe that could give Haskell an advantage--lower 
software development costs--as long as the hardware doesn't need to cost 
a penny more. But again, with hard real time constraints, this doesn't 
feel like a natural market for Haskell in its current state.

I think Paul asked just the right question--but I wonder if we'll see 
the answer on this list? After all, anyone with a really *good* answer 
stands to make a lot of money...


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