[Haskell] garbage collection of Concurrent Haskell threads?

Conal Elliott conal at conal.net
Sun Dec 23 19:15:09 EST 2007

The classic paper "The Incremental Garbage Collection of Processes" (
http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/baker77incremental.html) describes "futures" and
how particularly garbage collecting them when their pending result is no
longer referenced.  I've been playing with an implementation of futures in
Concurrent Haskell (http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Reactive), using MVars,
and I'm stumped about how to GC non-winning threads in a race between
futures ("parallel or").  I'm having winner kill loser, which seems to work
fine, though is potentially dangerous w.r.t locked resources.  Still, the
elegance of a GC-based solution appeals to me.  Has anyone explored process
GC ideas for Concurrent Haskell (or STM)?

Futures are implemented using Concurrent Haskell's MVars.  I first tried
using STM and TVars, simply using orElse to implement mappend for futures.
However, I didn't see how to avoid nesting "atomically", which yielded a
run-time error.  If anyone has ideas about using STM & TVars for futures,
I'd love to hear.

Thanks,  - Conal
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