Talk:IO inside

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Revision as of 01:30, 13 December 2006 by Claus (talk | contribs) (serious problem with IO explanation)
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I just stumbled over this IO tutorial, and gave it a quick glance for
the usual issues. Unfortunately, it seems to propagate a seriously
misleading picture of the IO type:

IO cannot, must not be a type synonym. As long as Haskell does not
have a uniqueness type system, any functional representation of IO
must be hidden behind an abstract type!

making only RealWorld abstract is insufficient, as functional programming
would still allow us to create RealWorlds out of thin air, or let them

oops :: RealWorld -> (Char,RealWorld)
oops rw = let (c1,rw1) = getChar rw
              (c2,rw2) = getChar rw
          in ([c2,c1],rw1)

whoCares rw = (rw,rw) -- let's make a copy while we're at it

fortunately, the fix is simple (but crucial): 
- make IO a newtype
- do handle code inside the abstract type with great care,
  as many functional equivalences are no longer valid!

actually, only the first part is simple, the second part 
depends on some apparently and happily valid properties of
typical optimizations in the implementations.

keeping IO abstract also makes it clear that other implementations
are possible, and have been used (such as having an interpretation
loop for the tree of i/o operations computed by main).

also, it might be more useful to think of unsafePerformIO
linking into the implicit RealWorld at its point of evaluation,
rather than creating an all new one to throw away. this 
linking in is what makes it so useful as an extension hook
for the Haskell implementation.