Write You a Haskell

Building a modern functional compiler from first principles.

Stephen Diehl

In 2014 I wrote a short tutorial about building a small imperative language in Haskell that compiled into LLVM. I was extremely happy with the effect the tutorial seemed to have, and the warm response I got from so many people was very encouraging.

I've done a great bit of thinking about what the most impactful topic I could write about in 2015 could be; and decided throughout this year I will follow up with an large endeavor for another project-based tutorial on building a simple functional programming language from first principles.

This is a nontrivial topic and is unfortunately very much underserved, the knowledge to build such a modern functional language is not widely disseminated among many programmers. The available resources most often discuss language theory in depth while completely glossing over the engineering details. I wished to write a project-based tutorial that included the engineering details and left the reader with a fully functional toy language at the end that could be extended for further projects.

We will build a small functional language called Fun which is a partial Haskell 2010 toy language; complete with a parser, type inference, datatypes, pattern matching, desugaring, typeclasses, higher-kinded types, monadic IO, arbitrary-rank polymorphism, records, Core language, STG intermediate language, lazy evaluation, interpreter, native code generator, a runtime, and several optimization passes.

As with most of my writing, this is the pre-edited rough cut version, which I will refine over time. The compiler itself is fully complete as of December 2014, but each of the chapters (28 in total) will be staggered on a month-by-month basis to allow me to progressively refine the text with feedback from readers and testers. The later chapters on runtime and code generation are somewhat involved and much longer.

Submitted by ghosthamlet on Jan. 6, 2015, 12:37 a.m.
Flag book for abuse