Towards Haskell in the cloud

Towards Haskell in the cloud, Jeff Epstein, Andrew Black, and and Simon Peyton Jones. Haskell Symposium, Tokyo, Sept 2011.


We present Cloud Haskell, a domain-specific language for developing programs for a distributed-memory computing environment. Implemented as a shallow embedding in Haskell, it provides a message-passing communication model, inspired by Erlang, without introducing incompatibility with Haskell's established shared-memory concurrency. A key contribution is a method for serializing function closures for transmission across the network. Cloud Haskell has been implemented; we present example code and some preliminary performance measurements.

Multicore garbage collection with local heaps

Multicore garbage collection with local heaps, Simon Marlow and Simon Peyton Jones. International Symposium on Memory Management, San Joes, June 2011.


In a parallel, shared-memory, language with a garbage collected heap, it is desirable for each processor to perform minor garbage collections independently. Although obvious, it is difficult to make this idea pay off in practice, especially in languages where mutation is common. We present several techniques that substantially improve the state of the art. We describe these techniques in the context of a full-scale implementation of Haskell, and demonstrate that our local-heap collector substantially improves scaling, peak performance, and robustness.

A monad for deterministic parallelism

Runtime Support for Multicore Haskell, Simon Marlow, Ryan Newton, and Simon Peyton Jones. Submitted to ICFP'11.


We present a new programming model for deterministic parallel computation in a pure functional language. The model is monadic and has explicit granularity, but allows dynamic construction of dataflow networks that are scheduled at runtime, while remaining deterministic and pure. The implementation is based on monadic concurrency, which has until now only been used to simulate concurrency, rather than to provide parallelism, in functional languages. We present the API with its semantics, and argue that parallel execution is deterministic. Furthermore, we present a complete work-stealing scheduler implemented as a Haskell library, and we show that it performs at least as well as the existing parallel programming models in Haskell.

Runtime Support for Multicore Haskell

Runtime Support for Multicore Haskell, Simon Marlow, Simon Peyton Jones, and Satnam Singh. ICFP'09.


Purely functional programs should run well on parallel hardware because of the absence of side effects, but it has proved hard to realise this potential in practice. Plenty of papers describe promising ideas, but vastly fewer describe real implementations with good wall-clock performance. We describe just such an implementation, and quantitatively explore some of the complex design tradeoffs that make such implementations hard to build. Our measurements are necessarily detailed and specific, but they are reproducible, and we believe that they offer some general insights.

A Tutorial on Parallel and Concurrent Programming in Haskell

Simon Peyton Jones and Satnam Singh, Advanced Functional Progamming Summer School, Nijmegen, May 2008, LNCS (to appear).


This practical tutorial introduces the features available in Haskell for writing parallel and concurrent programs. We first describe how to write semi-explicit parallel programs by using annotations to express opportunities for parallelism and to help control the granularity of parallelism for effective execution on modern operating systems and processors. We then describe the mechanisms provided by Haskell for writing explicitly parallel programs with a focus on the use of software transactional memory to help share information between threads. Finally, we show how nested data parallelism can be used to write deterministically parallel programs which allows programmers to use rich data types in data parallel programs which are automatically transformed into flat data parallel versions for efficient execution on multi-core processors.

Feedback directed implicit parallelism

, Tim Harris and Satnam Singh, Interanational Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP'07), Freiburg, Sept 2007.


In this paper we present an automated way of using spare CPU resources within a shared memory multi-processor or multi-core machine. Our approach is (i) to profile the execution of a program, (ii) from this to identify pieces of work which are promising sources of parallelism, (iii) recompile the program with this work being performed speculatively via a work-stealing system and then (iv) to detect at run-time any attempt to perform operations that would reveal the presence of speculation.

We assess the practicality of the approach through an implementation based on GHC 6.6 along with a limit study based on the execution profiles we gathered. We support the full Concurrent Haskell language compiled with traditional optimizations and including I/O operations and synchronization as well as pure computation. We use 20 of the larger programs from the ‘nofib’ benchmark suite. The limit study shows that programs vary a lot in the parallelism we can identify: some have none, 16 have a potential 2x speed-up, 4 have 32x. In practice, on a 4-core processor, we get 10-80% speed-ups on 7 programs. This is mainly achieved at the addition of a second core rather than beyond this.

This approach is therefore not a replacement for manual parallelization, but rather a way of squeezing extra performance out of the threads of an already-parallel program or out of a program that has not yet been parallelized.

Haskell on a shared-memory multiprocessor

Tim Harris, Simon Marlow, Simon Peyton Jones, Haskell Workshop, Tallin, Sept 2005.


Multi-core processors are coming, and we need ways to program them. The combination of purely-functional programming and explicit, monadic threads, communicating using transactional memory, looks like a particularly promising way to do so. This paper describes a full-scale implementation of shared-memory parallel Haskell, based on the Glasgow Haskell Compiler. Our main technical contribution is a lock-free mechanism for evaluating shared thunks that eliminates the major performance bottleneck in parallel evaluation of a lazy language. Our results are preliminary but promising: we can demonstrate wall-clock speedups of a serious application (GHC itself), even with only two processors, compared to the same application compiled for a uni-processor.