.. _bang-patterns:
.. _strict-haskell:
Bang patterns and Strict Haskell
================================
.. index::
single: strict haskell
.. index::
single: Bang patterns
In high-performance Haskell code (e.g. numeric code) eliminating
thunks from an inner loop can be a huge win.
GHC supports three extensions to allow the programmer to specify
use of strict (call-by-value) evaluation rather than lazy (call-by-need)
evaluation.
- Bang patterns (:extension:`BangPatterns`) makes pattern matching and
let bindings stricter.
- Strict data types (:extension:`StrictData`) makes constructor fields
strict by default, on a per-module basis.
- Strict pattern (:extension:`Strict`) makes all patterns and let bindings
strict by default, on a per-module basis.
The latter two extensions are simply a way to avoid littering high-performance
code with bang patterns, making it harder to read.
Bang patterns and strict matching do not affect the type system in any way.
.. _bang-patterns-informal:
Bang patterns
-------------
.. extension:: BangPatterns
:shortdesc: Enable bang patterns.
:since: 6.8.1
Allow use of bang pattern syntax.
GHC supports an extension of pattern matching called *bang patterns*,
written ``!pat``. Bang patterns are available by default as a part
of :extension:`GHC2021`.
The main idea is to add a single new production to the syntax of
patterns: ::
pat ::= !pat
Matching an expression ``e`` against a pattern ``!p`` is done by first
evaluating ``e`` (to WHNF) and then matching the result against ``p``.
Example: ::
f1 !x = True
This definition makes ``f1`` is strict in ``x``, whereas without the
bang it would be lazy.
Note the following points:
- Bang patterns can be nested: ::
f2 (!x, y) = [x,y]
Here, ``f2`` is strict in ``x`` but not in ``y``.
- Bang patterns can be used in ``case`` expressions too: ::
g1 x = let y = f x in body
g2 x = case f x of { y -> body }
g3 x = case f x of { !y -> body }
The functions ``g1`` and ``g2`` mean exactly the same thing. But ``g3``
evaluates ``(f x)``, binds ``y`` to the result, and then evaluates
``body``.
- Bang patterns do not have any effect with constructor patterns: ::
f3 !(x,y) = [x,y]
f4 (x,y) = [x,y]
Here, ``f3`` and ``f4`` are identical; putting a bang before a pattern
that forces evaluation anyway does nothing. However, see the caveat below.
- There is one problem with syntactic ambiguity. Consider: ::
f !x = 3
Is this a definition of the infix function "``(!)``", or of the "``f``" with
a bang pattern? GHC resolves this ambiguity by looking at the surrounding
whitespace: ::
a ! b = ... -- infix operator
a !b = ... -- bang pattern
See `GHC Proposal #229 `__
for the precise rules.
Strict bindings
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The ``BangPatterns`` extension furthermore enables syntax for strict
``let`` or ``where`` bindings with ``!pat = expr``. For example, ::
let !x = e in body
let !(p,q) = e in body
In both cases ``e`` is evaluated before starting to evaluate ``body``.
Note the following points:
- This form is not the same as a bang pattern:
The declarations ``f3 (x,y) = ...`` and ``f4 !(x,y) = ....``
are equivalent (because the constructor pattern ``(x,y)`` forces the argument),
but the expressions ``let (p,q) = e in body`` and ``let !(p,q) = e in body``
are different. The former will not evaluate ``e`` unless
``p`` or ``q`` is forced in ``body``.
- Only a top-level bang (perhaps under parentheses) makes the binding strict; otherwise,
it is considered a normal bang pattern. For example, ::
let (!x,[y]) = e in b
is equivalent to this: ::
let { t = case e of (x,[y]) -> x `seq` (x,y)
x = fst t
y = snd t }
in b
The binding is lazy, but when either ``x`` or ``y`` is evaluated by
``b`` the entire pattern is matched, including forcing the evaluation of
``x``.
- Because the ``!`` in a strict binding is not a bang pattern, it must
be visible without looking through pattern synonyms ::
pattern Bang x <- !x
f1 = let Bang x = y in ...
f2 = let !x = y in ... -- not equivalent to f1
- Strict bindings are not allowed at the top level of a module.
- See :ref:`Semantics of let bindings with bang patterns ` for
the detailed semantics, and the `Haskell prime feature
description `__
for more discussion and examples.
.. _strict-data:
Strict-by-default data types
----------------------------
.. extension:: StrictData
:shortdesc: Enable default strict datatype fields.
:since: 8.0.1
Make fields of data types defined in the current module strict by default.
Informally the ``StrictData`` language extension switches data type
declarations to be strict by default allowing fields to be lazy by
adding a ``~`` in front of the field.
When the user writes ::
data T = C a
data T' = C' ~a
we interpret it as if they had written ::
data T = C !a
data T' = C' a
The extension only affects definitions in this module.
The ``~`` annotation must be written in prefix form::
data T = MkT ~Int -- valid
data T = MkT ~ Int -- invalid
See `GHC Proposal #229 `__
for the precise rules.
.. _strict:
Strict-by-default pattern bindings
----------------------------------
.. extension:: Strict
:shortdesc: Make bindings in the current module strict by default.
:implies: :extension:`StrictData`
:since: 8.0.1
Make bindings in the current module strict by default.
Informally the ``Strict`` language extension switches functions, data
types, and bindings to be strict by default, allowing optional laziness
by adding ``~`` in front of a variable. This essentially reverses the
present situation where laziness is default and strictness can be
optionally had by adding ``!`` in front of a variable.
``Strict`` implies :ref:`StrictData `.
- **Function definitions**
When the user writes ::
f x = ...
we interpret it as if they had written ::
f !x = ...
Adding ``~`` in front of ``x`` gives the regular lazy behavior.
Turning patterns into irrefutable ones requires ``~(~p)`` when ``Strict`` is enabled.
- **Let/where bindings**
When the user writes ::
let x = ...
let pat = ...
we interpret it as if they had written ::
let !x = ...
let !pat = ...
Adding ``~`` in front of ``x`` gives the regular lazy
behavior.
The general rule is that we add an implicit bang on the outermost pattern,
unless disabled with ``~``.
- **Pattern matching in case expressions, lambdas, do-notation, etc**
The outermost pattern of all pattern matches gets an implicit bang,
unless disabled with ``~``.
This applies to case expressions, patterns in lambda, do-notation,
list comprehension, and so on.
For example ::
case x of (a,b) -> rhs
is interpreted as ::
case x of !(a,b) -> rhs
Since the semantics of pattern matching in case expressions is
strict, this usually has no effect whatsoever. But it does make a
difference in the degenerate case of variables and newtypes. So ::
case x of y -> rhs
is lazy in Haskell, but with ``Strict`` is interpreted as ::
case x of !y -> rhs
which evaluates ``x``. Similarly, if ``newtype Age = MkAge Int``, then ::
case x of MkAge i -> rhs
is lazy in Haskell; but with ``Strict`` the added bang makes it
strict.
Similarly ::
\ x -> body
do { x <- rhs; blah }
[ e | x <- rhs; blah }
all get implicit bangs on the ``x`` pattern.
- **Nested patterns**
Notice that we do *not* put bangs on nested patterns. For
example ::
let (p,q) = if flob then (undefined, undefined) else (True, False)
in ...
will behave like ::
let !(p,q) = if flob then (undefined, undefined) else (True,False)
in ...
which will strictly evaluate the right hand side, and bind ``p``
and ``q`` to the components of the pair. But the pair itself is
lazy (unless we also compile the ``Prelude`` with ``Strict``; see
:ref:`strict-modularity` below). So ``p`` and ``q`` may end up bound to
undefined. See also :ref:`recursive-and-polymorphic-let-bindings` below.
- **Top level bindings**
are unaffected by ``Strict``. For example: ::
x = factorial 20
(y,z) = if x > 10 then True else False
Here ``x`` and the pattern binding ``(y,z)`` remain lazy. Reason:
there is no good moment to force them, until first use.
- **Newtypes**
There is no effect on newtypes, which simply rename existing types.
For example: ::
newtype T = C a
f (C x) = rhs1
g !(C x) = rhs2
In ordinary Haskell, ``f`` is lazy in its argument and hence in
``x``; and ``g`` is strict in its argument and hence also strict in
``x``. With ``Strict``, both become strict because ``f``'s argument
gets an implicit bang.
.. _strict-modularity:
Modularity
----------
``Strict`` and ``StrictData`` only affects definitions in the module
they are used in. Functions and data types imported from other modules
are unaffected. For example, we won't evaluate the argument to
``Just`` before applying the constructor. Similarly we won't evaluate
the first argument to ``Data.Map.findWithDefault`` before applying the
function.
This is crucial to preserve correctness. Entities defined in other
modules might rely on laziness for correctness (whether functional or
performance).
Tuples, lists, ``Maybe``, and all the other types from ``Prelude``
continue to have their existing, lazy, semantics.
.. _bang-patterns-sem:
.. _recursive-and-polymorphic-let-bindings:
Dynamic semantics of bang patterns
----------------------------------
The semantics of Haskell pattern matching is described in `Section
3.17.2 `__ of
the Haskell Report. To this description add one extra item 10, saying:
- Matching the pattern ``!pat`` against a value ``v`` behaves as
follows:
- if ``v`` is bottom, the match diverges
- otherwise, ``pat`` is matched against ``v``
Similarly, in Figure 4 of `Section
3.17.3 `__,
add a new case (t): ::
case v of { !pat -> e; _ -> e' }
= v `seq` case v of { pat -> e; _ -> e' }
That leaves let expressions, whose translation is given in `Section
3.12 `__ of the
Haskell Report.
Replace the "Translation" there with the following one. Given
``let { bind1 ... bindn } in body``:
.. admonition:: FORCE
Replace any binding ``!p = e`` with ``v = case e of p -> (x1, ..., xn); (x1, ..., xn) = v`` and replace
``body`` with ``v seq body``, where ``v`` is fresh. This translation works fine if
``p`` is already a variable ``x``, but can obviously be optimised by not
introducing a fresh variable ``v``.
.. admonition:: SPLIT
Replace any binding ``p = e``, where ``p`` is not a variable, with
``v = e; x1 = case v of p -> x1; ...; xn = case v of p -> xn``, where
``v`` is fresh and ``x1``.. ``xn`` are the bound variables of ``p``.
Again if ``e`` is a variable, this can be optimised by not introducing a
fresh variable.
The result will be a (possibly) recursive set of bindings, binding
only simple variables on the left hand side. (One could go one step
further, as in the Haskell Report and make the recursive bindings
non-recursive using ``fix``, but we do not do so in Core, and it only
obfuscates matters, so we do not do so here.)
The translation is carefully crafted to make bang patterns meaningful
for recursive and polymorphic bindings as well as straightforward
non-recursive bindings.
Here are some examples of how this translation works. The first
expression of each sequence is Haskell source; the subsequent ones are
Core.
Here is a simple non-recursive case: ::
let x :: Int -- Non-recursive
!x = factorial y
in body
===> (FORCE)
let x = factorial y in x `seq` body
===> (inline seq)
let x = factorial y in case x of x -> body
===> (inline x)
case factorial y of x -> body
Same again, only with a pattern binding: ::
let !(Just x, Left y) = e in body
===> (FORCE)
let v = case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y)
(x,y) = v
in v `seq` body
===> (SPLIT)
let v = case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y)
x = case v of (x,y) -> x
y = case v of (x,y) -> y
in v `seq` body
===> (inline seq, float x,y bindings inwards)
let v = case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y)
in case v of v -> let x = case v of (x,y) -> x
y = case v of (x,y) -> y
in body
===> (fluff up v's pattern; this is a standard Core optimisation)
let v = case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y)
in case v of v@(p,q) -> let x = case v of (x,y) -> x
y = case v of (x,y) -> y
in body
===> (case of known constructor)
let v = case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y)
in case v of v@(p,q) -> let x = p
y = q
in body
===> (inline x,y, v)
case (case e of (Just x, Left y) -> (x,y) of
(p,q) -> body[p/x, q/y]
===> (case of case)
case e of (Just x, Left y) -> body[p/x, q/y]
The final form is just what we want: a simple case expression.
Here is a recursive case ::
letrec xs :: [Int] -- Recursive
!xs = factorial y : xs
in body
===> (FORCE)
letrec xs = factorial y : xs in xs `seq` body
===> (inline seq)
letrec xs = factorial y : xs in case xs of xs -> body
===> (eliminate case of value)
letrec xs = factorial y : xs in body
and a polymorphic one: ::
let f :: forall a. [a] -> [a] -- Polymorphic
!f = fst (reverse, True)
in body
===> (FORCE)
let f = /\a. fst (reverse a, True) in f `seq` body
===> (inline seq, inline f)
case (/\a. fst (reverse a, True)) of f -> body
Notice that the ``seq`` is added only in the translation to Core
If we did it in Haskell source, thus ::
let f = ... in f `seq` body
then ``f``\ 's polymorphic type would get instantiated, so the Core
translation would be ::
let f = ... in f Any `seq` body
When overloading is involved, the results might be slightly counter
intuitive: ::
let f :: forall a. Eq a => a -> [a] -> Bool -- Overloaded
!f = fst (member, True)
in body
===> (FORCE)
let f = /\a \(d::Eq a). fst (member, True) in f `seq` body
===> (inline seq, case of value)
let f = /\a \(d::Eq a). fst (member, True) in body
Note that the bang has no effect at all in this case