What is Haskell Programming Language?

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Haskell Programming Language

Haskell programming language is polymorphic, statically typed, purely functional, and lazy with type inference.

Too many jargons at once? Thought so! Not to worry. We will try to understand the meaning of these jargon one at a time.

Polymorphism is highly embedded in Haskell and is a key feature of its type system. They usually fall into either of the two categories; Ad Hoc and Parametric.

Ad Hoc polymorphism refers to an event where a value being able to adopt any of the several types because it has given a separate definition for each of those types. Here polymorphic functions can be applied to arguments of different types because it can denote several distinct as well as possible heterogeneous implementations depending on the type of arguments to which it is applied.

Parametric polymorphism is defined by an event when a type of value includes single or multiple types of variables so that the value is able to adopt any type that results from substituting those variables with concrete types. It is a way to make the language highly expressive but still maintaining full static type safety.

Static type infers to the process of verifying the type safety of a program based on the analysis of a program’s text. The primary benefit of it is that the errors can be caught before the program runs.

Purely functional refers to a method of creating the elements or structure of computer elements, that treats all computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions. In other words, it models computations as the evaluation of expressions. Haskell is called as the purest functional language.

One can define lazy evaluation as a method to evaluate a Haskell program. In other words, lazy evaluation means evaluating only an expression when its results are needed.

And lastly, type inference! It is defined as the automatic detection of the data type of expression in a programming language.

Hopefully, this made the definition of Haskell programming language easy to comprehend.

History

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The seeds for the Haskell plantations were scattered on the fertile fields of Princeton. Alonzo Church, the Ph.D. supervisor for the Enigma breaker Alan Turing, came up with the mathematical model of functions called the lambda calculus in the 1930s. It captivates the essence of computation.

Fast-forward to the 1950s, a new high-level programming language came into being which was called LISP. The abbreviation stood for List Processing. The language adopted a functional style and allowed user functions to be defined and passed around as values. The recent avatars of LISP are Scheme and Clojure.

During the 1980s, Hope, ML, Miranda and other functional programming languages were created and extended. However, research was fragmented upon many languages and many were devoid of open source frameworks. So, a group of academics formed a committee to come up with a new language and implement it in order to be used as transportation for research as well as for teaching functional programs.

Years went by with differing views and arguments, the committee published the first Haskell Language Report in 1990. This was a major breakthrough since now there is a common functional language upon which the entire research community could unite.

The Name Haskell

An American mathematician who was also a logician was behind the christening of this programming language. His name was Haskell Curry, and he had three programming languages named after him; Haskell, Curry, and Brook (his middle name).

According to John Hughes, a professor of computer sciences at the University of Technology in Gothenburg, the name was given by the committee who designed the language. Everyone within the committee wrote a name that they would think should be the new name of the programming language. After the names were put on the board, everyone was asked to cross off one of those choices until there was one name left; Curry. So, the next time they met, they decided to name it by Haskell Curry’s first name instead. The name from that point on, it was called, Haskell programming language.

Benefits of Haskell Programming Language

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#1. Availability of Library

Haskell might not be as popular as Python or JavaScript, but it still has a pretty good database of packages called Hackage. It is not as extensive as Python package database but frequently covers even fairly rare niches.

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#2. Parallelism With Speed

GHC which is the main Haskell compiler is a masterpiece that can generate incredibly performant code. This is due to the LLVM and a native run back-end present in the GHC. If properly optimized, Haskell can run with code fairly close to C code. The IO manager and runtime is able to handle thousands of threads with minimal effort. Haskell can be transformed into a high performing language with minimal code changes.

#3. Provides a Learning Curve

The learning perks of Haskell is its teaching of valuable skills to its students. The hardest thing involved in learning Haskell is its practices and requirements which are imperative for high-quality code-base such as high levels of abstraction, pure functions, and differentiation of effectful and pure code. Learning it also embeds new habits which are great for an everyday programming language, no matter what type of language is being spoken. Many companies say that training people in Haskell isn’t as hard as many people assume it to be.

#4. Testing

The level of abstraction, purity, and evaluation provide by Haskell makes texting very easy. SmallCheck, QuickCheck, and other libraries were inventions within the Haskell community and were later ported to languages such as Scala and Python. With that, it has a strong expressive static type system means the tests that are needed for other languages aren’t required when it comes to Haskell.

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#5. Reusing Codes

The high level of abstraction and expressive type systems commonly used in Haskell code implies that it allows a lot of code-reuse. Patterns are abstracted into reusable components and components and later high-level interfaces to complex patterns are built into libraries. This lowers code duplication and developers can focus on building systems and designing algorithms instead of debugging the same code multiple times.

How to Learn Haskell Programming?

Programming Misconceptions

With so many benefits, there are many programming enthusiasts who want to learn Haskell and take advantage of the benefits it gives. There is no lack of resources to learn Haskell programming. Many prefer books on Haskell while others might be more inclined towards courses from a reputed institution. There are also online tutorials on YouTube that one can use to enhance their skills at Haskell.

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