Compact Normal Form and ST

Andrew Martin andrew.thaddeus at
Sun Jun 18 14:24:09 UTC 2017

In the primops file where the compact normal form functions are
documented (,
I noticed that all of the functions have type signatures that constrain
them to only being used in IO. For example:

    compactAdd# :: Compact# -> a -> State# RealWorld -> (# State# RealWorld, a #)

I would like to know if generalizing these to allow them to work in ST would
be sound. That is, changing the type signature to:

    compactAdd# :: Compact# -> a -> State# s -> (# State# s, a #)

I'm not requesting that this change actually be made. I only want to
know if using unsafeCoerce to create the second function for my own
project would actually be sound.

For those interested in knowing why I want this, it's because there are
situation where I'm interested in building up a giant structure in a
compact region, but in a way that doesn't actually require IO. I think
it's a pity to have to use a type signature with IO and then call
unsafePerformIO at the end instead of using the more constrained ST,
and runST, which makes it clear that I'm not doing anything observable
form the outside.

As a minor bonus, the ST version of the Compact data type shouldn't need
the lock that the IO version does, since concurrent calls to compactAdd
are not possible.

-Andrew Martin

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