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(comment about JHC not using dictionary-passing for typeclasses)

Revision as of 08:16, 4 May 2006

Haskell Performance Resource

Data Types - Functions
Overloading - FFI - Arrays
Strings - Integers - I/O
Floating point - Concurrency
Modules - Monads

Strictness - Laziness
Avoiding space leaks
Accumulating parameter

GHC - nhc98 - Hugs
Yhc - JHC

Overloaded functions are not your friend

Haskell's overloading (using type classes) is elegant, neat, etc., etc., but it is death to performance if left to linger in an inner loop. Each type class constraint on an overloaded function corresponds to an extra argument passed at runtime (called a dictionary) (except in JHC!), and a reference to a class method is implemented by extracting a field from the dictionary. The presence of overloading can prevent many other optimisations, such as Strictness, from kicking in.

How can you squash overloading?

Give explicit type signatures: Signatures are the basic trick; putting them on exported, top-level functions is good software-engineering practice, anyway. (GHC Tip: using -fwarn-missing-signatures can help enforce good signature-practice).

The automatic specialisation of overloaded functions (with -O) should take care of overloaded local and/or unexported functions.

Use SPECIALIZE pragmas: Specialize the overloading on key functions in your program. (Supported by: GHC, JHC).

Use a module export list: If you omit the export list for the module, then everything in the module is exported. Also, any functions that lack type signatures will have the most general i.e. polymorphic types inferred for them. If those same functions are only used inside that module, then they are likely to be more polymorphic than necessary. Removing them from the module export list (whether explicit or implicit) will allow the compiler to specialise them to just the type(s) used in the module.