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Calling Haskell from C

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Revision as of 03:26, 5 May 2011 by Treblacy (Talk | contribs)

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It is not uncommon to want to call a Haskell function from C code. Here's how to do that.

We define the fibonacci function in Haskell:

    {-# LANGUAGE ForeignFunctionInterface #-}
    module Safe where
    import Foreign.C.Types
    fibonacci :: Int -> Int
    fibonacci n = fibs !! n
        where fibs = 0 : 1 : zipWith (+) fibs (tail fibs)
    fibonacci_hs :: CInt -> CInt
    fibonacci_hs = fromIntegral . fibonacci . fromIntegral
    foreign export ccall fibonacci_hs :: CInt -> CInt

Note the foreign export. When GHC sees this, it will generate stubs for C, to help it work out the Haskell types.

And call it from C:

    #include <HsFFI.h>
    #ifdef __GLASGOW_HASKELL__
    #include "Safe_stub.h"
    extern void __stginit_Safe(void);
    #include <stdio.h>
    int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
       int i;
       hs_init(&argc, &argv);
    #ifdef __GLASGOW_HASKELL__
       i = fibonacci_hs(42);
       printf("Fibonacci: %d\n", i);
       return 0;

Now, first compile the Haskell file:

   $ ghc -c -O Safe.hs

Which creates Safe_stub.c, Safe_stub.o, Safe_stub.h, which you import into your C program. Now compile your C code with ghc (!), passing the Haskell objects on the command line:

   $ ghc -optc-O test.c Safe.o Safe_stub.o -o test

(Alternatively, fewer files to enumerate:

   $ ghc --make -no-hs-main -optc-O test.c Safe -o test


Then run your C code:

   $ ./test 
   Fibonacci: 267914296

And that's it.