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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logo of Haskell
Usual file extensions .hs, .lhs
Paradigm functional, non-strict, modular
Appeared in 1990
Designed by Simon Peyton Jones, Paul Hudak,[1] Philip Wadler, et al.
Typing discipline static, strong, inferred
Major implementations GHC, Hugs, NHC, JHC, Yhc
Dialects Helium, Gofer
Influenced by Lisp and Scheme, ISWIM, FP, APL, Hope and Hope+, SISAL, Miranda, ML and Standard ML, Lazy ML, Orwell, Alfl, Id, Ponder
Influenced Agda, Bluespec, Clojure, C#, CAL, Cat, Cayenne, Clean, Curry, Epigram, Escher, F#, Factor, Isabelle, Java Generics, LINQ, Mercury, Omega, Perl 6, Python, Qi, Scala, Timber, Visual Basic 9.0
OS portable

Haskell (pronounced [ˈhæskəl][2][3]) is a standardized, general-purpose purely functional programming language, with non-strict semantics and strong static typing. It is named after logician Haskell Curry. In Haskell, "a function is a first-class citizen"[4] of the programming language. As a functional programming language, the primary control construct is the function; the language is rooted in the observations of Haskell Curry (1934,[5] 1958,[6]) and his intellectual descendants,[7][8] that "a proof is a program; the formula it proves is a type for the program".



Following the release of Miranda by Research Software Ltd, in 1985, interest in lazy functional languages grew: by 1987, more than a dozen non-strict, purely functional programming languages existed. Of these, Miranda was the most widely used, but was not in the public domain. At the conference on Functional Programming Languages and Computer Architecture (FPCA '87) in Portland, Oregon, a meeting was held during which participants formed a strong consensus that a committee should be formed to define an open standard for such languages. The committee's purpose was to consolidate the existing functional languages into a common one that would serve as a basis for future research in functional-language design.[9]


Haskell 1.0

The first version of Haskell ("Haskell 1.0") was defined in 1990.[10] The committee's efforts resulted in a series of language definitions.

Haskell 98

In late 1997, the series culminated in Haskell 98, intended to specify a stable, minimal, portable version of the language and an accompanying standard library for teaching, and as a base for future extensions. The committee expressly welcomed the creation of extensions and variants of Haskell 98 via adding and incorporating experimental features.[9]

In February 1999, the Haskell 98 language standard was originally published as "The Haskell 98 Report".[9] In January 2003, a revised version was published as "Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report".[11] The language continues to evolve rapidly, with the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC) implementation representing the current de facto standard.

Haskell Prime

In early 2006, the process of defining a successor to the Haskell 98 standard, informally named Haskell′ ("Haskell Prime"), was begun.[12] This is an ongoing incremental process to revise the language definition, producing a new revision once per year. The first revision, named Haskell 2010, was announced in November 2009.[13]


Haskell features Lazy evaluation, pattern matching, list comprehensions, typeclasses, and type polymorphism. It is a purely functional language, which means that in general, functions in Haskell do not have side effects. There is a distinct type for representing side effects, orthogonal to the type of functions. A pure function may return a side effect which is subsequently executed, modeling the impure functions of other languages.

Haskell has a strong, static, type system based on Hindley-Milner type inference. Haskell's principal innovation in this area is to add type classes, which were originally conceived as a principled way to add overloading to the language,[14] but have since found many more uses.[15]

The type which represents side effects is an example of a monad. Monads are a general framework which can model different kinds of computation, including error handling, nondeterminism, parsing, and software transactional memory. Monads are defined as ordinary datatypes, but Haskell provides some syntactic sugar for their use.

The language has an open, published, specification,[11] and multiple implementations exist.

There is an active community around the language, and more than 1700 third-party open-source libraries and tools are available in the online package repository Hackage.[16]

The main implementation of Haskell, GHC, is both an interpreter and native-code compiler that runs on most platforms. GHC is noted for its high-performance implementation of concurrency and parallelism,[17] and for having a rich type system incorporating recent innovations such as generalized algebraic data types and Type Families.

"Hello World!"

The following is a Hello world program written in Haskell (note that except for the last line all lines can be omitted):

module Main where
main :: IO ()
main = putStrLn "Hello World!"

Other examples

Here is the factorial function in Haskell, defined in four different ways::

-- using recursion
factorial 0 = 1
factorial n = n * factorial (n - 1)
-- using lists
factorial n = product [1..n]
-- using recursion but written without pattern matching
factorial n = if n > 0 then n * factorial (n-1) else 1
-- using only prefix notation and n+k-patterns
factorial 0 = 1
factorial (n+1) = (*) (n+1) (factorial n)

An efficient implementation of the Fibonacci series, as an infinite sequence, is this:

fibs = 0 : 1 : zipWith (+) fibs (tail fibs)


The following all comply fully, or very nearly, with the Haskell 98 standard, and are distributed under open source licenses. There are currently no proprietary Haskell implementations.

  • The Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC) compiles to native code on a number of different architectures—as well as to ANSI C—using C-- as an intermediate language. GHC is probably the most popular Haskell compiler, and there are quite a few useful libraries (e.g. bindings to OpenGL) that will work only with GHC.
  • Gofer was an educational dialect of Haskell, with a feature called "constructor classes", developed by Mark Jones. It was supplanted by Hugs (see below).
  • HBC is another native-code Haskell compiler. It has not been actively developed for some time but is still usable.
  • Helium is a newer dialect of Haskell. The focus is on making it easy to learn by providing clearer error messages. It currently lacks full support for type classes, rendering it incompatible with many Haskell programs.
  • The Utrecht Haskell Compiler (UHC) is a Haskell implementation from Utrecht University. UHC supports almost all Haskell 98 features plus many experimental extensions. It is implemented using attribute grammars and is currently mainly used for research into generated type systems and language extensions.
  • Hugs, the Haskell User's Gofer System, is a bytecode interpreter. It offers fast compilation of programs and reasonable execution speed. It also comes with a simple graphics library. Hugs is good for people learning the basics of Haskell, but is by no means a "toy" implementation. It is the most portable and lightweight of the Haskell implementations.
  • Jhc is a Haskell compiler written by John Meacham emphasising speed and efficiency of generated programs as well as exploration of new program transformations. LHC, is a recent fork of Jhc.
  • nhc98 is another bytecode compiler, but the bytecode runs significantly faster than with Hugs. Nhc98 focuses on minimizing memory usage, and is a particularly good choice for older, slower machines.
  • Yhc, the York Haskell Compiler is a fork of nhc98, with the goals of being simpler, more portable and more efficient, and integrating support for Hat, the Haskell tracer. It also features a JavaScript backend allowing users to run Haskell programs in a web browser.

Haskell Platform

Since January 2007, libraries and applications written in Haskell have been collected on Hackage, an online database of open source Haskell software using Cabal packaging tool. As of March 2010 there are about 1900 packages available.[16]

Cabal and compiling tools, such as Alex and Happy, along with many libraries form the Haskell Platform.


Haskell is increasingly being used in commercial situations.[18] Audrey Tang's Pugs is an implementation for the long-forthcoming Perl 6 language with an interpreter and compilers that proved useful after just a few months of its writing; similarly, GHC is often a testbed for advanced functional programming features and optimizations. Darcs is a revision control system written in Haskell, with several innovative features. Linspire GNU/Linux chose Haskell for system tools development.[19] Xmonad is a window manager for the X Window System, written entirely in Haskell.

Bluespec SystemVerilog is a language for semiconductor design that is an extension of Haskell. Additionally, Bluespec, Inc.'s tools are implemented in Haskell. Cryptol, a language and toolchain for developing and verifying cryptographic algorithms, is implemented in Haskell. Notably, the first formally verified microkernel, seL4 was developed in Haskell.

Related languages

Concurrent Clean is a close relative of Haskell, whose biggest deviation from Haskell is in the use of uniqueness types instead of monads for I/O and side-effects.

A series of languages inspired by Haskell, but with different type systems, have been developed, including:

  • Epigram, a functional programming language with dependent types suitable for proving properties of programs
  • Agda, a functional programming language with dependent types

Other related languages include:

  • Curry, a language based on Haskell
  • Jaskell, a functional scripting programming language that runs in Java VM

Haskell has served as a testbed for many new ideas in language design. There have been a wide number of Haskell variants produced, exploring new language ideas, including:


Jan-Willem Maessen, in 2002, and Simon Peyton Jones, in 2003, discussed problems associated with lazy evaluation while also acknowledging the theoretical motivation for it,[24][25] in addition to purely practical considerations such as improved performance.[26] They note that, in addition to adding some performance overhead, laziness makes it more difficult for programmers to reason about the performance of their code (particularly its space usage).

Bastiaan Heeren, Daan Leijen, and Arjan van IJzendoorn in 2003 also observed some stumbling blocks for Haskell learners: "The subtle syntax and sophisticated type system of Haskell are a double edged sword — highly appreciated by experienced programmers but also a source of frustration among beginners, since the generality of Haskell often leads to cryptic error messages."[27] To address these, they developed an advanced interpreter called Helium which improved the user-friendliness of error messages by limiting the generality of some Haskell features, and in particular removing support for type classes.

Conferences and workshops

The Haskell community meets regularly for research and development activities. The primary events are:

Since 2007 there has been a series of organized "hackathons"—the Hac series—aimed at improving the programming language tools and libraries:

  • Oxford, UK, 2007
  • Freiburg, Germany, 2007
  • Gothenburg, Sweden, 2008
  • Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2009
  • Philadelphia, US, 2009
  • Edinburgh, UK, 2009
  • Portland, US, 2009

Since 2005, a growing number of Haskell User Groups have formed, in the United States, Canada, Australia, South America, Europe and Asia.


  1. ^ Professor Paul Hudak's Home Page
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rod Burstall, "Christopher Strachey—Understanding Programming Languages", Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation 13:52 (2000)
  5. ^ Curry, Haskell (1934), "Functionality in Combinatory Logic", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20, pp. 584–590 
  6. ^ Curry, Haskell B.; Feys, Robert (1958), Combinatory Logic Vol. I, Amsterdam: North-Holland , with 2 sections by William Craig, see paragraph 9E
  7. ^ De Bruijn, Nicolaas (1968), Automath, a language for mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Eindhoven University of Technology, TH-report 68-WSK-05. Reprinted in revised form, with two pages commentary, in: Automation and Reasoning, vol 2, Classical papers on computational logic 1967-1970, Springer Verlag, 1983, pp. 159-200.
  8. ^ Howard, William A. (09 1980) [original paper manuscript from 1969], "The formulae-as-types notion of construction", in Seldin, Jonathan P.; Hindley, J. Roger, To H.B. Curry: Essays on Combinatory Logic, Lambda Calculus and Formalism, Boston, MA: Academic Press, pp. 479–490, ISBN 978-0-12-349050-6 .
  9. ^ a b c "Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report". December 2002. 
  10. ^ "The History of Haskell". 
  11. ^ a b Simon Peyton Jones (editor) (December 2002). "Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report". 
  12. ^ "Welcome to Haskell'". The Haskell' Wiki. 
  13. ^ Simon Marlow, Tue Nov 24 05:50:49 EST 2009: "[Haskell] Announcing Haskell 2010"
  14. ^ How to make ad-hoc polymorphism less ad hoc P. Wadler, S. Blott, Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT symposium on Principles of programming languages, 1989, ACM
  15. ^ Fun with Functional Dependencies, or Types as Values in Static Computations in Haskell T. Hallgren, Proceedings of the Joint CS/CE Winter Meeting, Varberg, Sweden, January 2001,
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^ Computer Language Benchmarks Game
  18. ^ See Industrial Haskell Group for collaborative development, Commercial Users of Functional Programming for specific projects and Haskell in industry for a list of companies using Haskell commercially
  19. ^ "Linspire/Freespire Core OS Team and Haskell". Debian Haskell mailing list. May 2006. 
  20. ^ Glasgow Parallel Haskell
  21. ^ GHC Language Features: Parallel Haskell
  22. ^ Using GHC: Using SML parallelism
  23. ^ MIT Parallel Haskell
  24. ^ Jan-Willem Maessen. Eager Haskell: Resource-bounded execution yields efficient iteration. Proceedings of the 2002 ACM SIGPLAN workshop on Haskell.
  25. ^ Simon Peyton Jones. Wearing the hair shirt: a retrospective on Haskell. Invited talk at POPL 2003.
  26. ^ Lazy evaluation can lead to excellent performance, such as in The Computer Language Benchmarks Game [1]
  27. ^ Bastiaan Heeren, Daan Leijen, Arjan van IJzendoorn. Helium, for learning Haskell. Proceedings of the 2003 ACM SIGPLAN workshop on Haskell.

External links


Haskell may refer to:

Haskell is one of several locations in the United States:

Haskell is a surname:

Haskell is a given name:

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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The Haskell Computer Programming Course

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Hello, and welcome to the future home of the Haskell Computer Programming Course. We will be learning about the Haskell programming language.


All contributions are appreciated. Even newcomers are welcome to make changes, remember Be bold !

Lessons for Beginners

Lesson one- Introduction to Haskell
    • What is Haskell?
    • How is Haskell different than other languages?
      • Haskell compared with:
        • C
        • C++
        • Java
        • Python
        • Basic
          • Visual Basic
        • Lisp
          • Common Lisp
          • Scheme
    • What is functional programming?
Lesson two-

Intermediate Lessons

Lesson one-
Lesson two-

Advanced Lessons

Lesson one-
Lesson two-

Class Project?

  • Spell check bot?

Further Reading

The Haskell Wikibook

The Haskell Wikipedia Article


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