Summary: In the new version of HLint, errors are warnings and warnings are suggestions. I plan to remove the old API very soon.
I've just released a new version of HLint, the tool for suggesting hints to improve your Haskell code. This version comes with two big changes.
Firstly, hints have been reclassified in severity. What used to be errors are now warnings, and hints that used to be warnings are now suggestions. As people have mentioned in the past, nothing HLint suggested was really an error, and now HLint matches that.
Secondly, there is now an hlint API entry point in Language.Haskell.HLint3 which captures the pattern of running HLint with command-line arguments, but in process as a library. With that, I don't think there are any API patterns that are better captured by the Language.Haskell.HLint API. If no one contacts me with issues, I will be making the module Language.Haskell.HLint a copy of Language.Haskell.HLint3 in the next release.
This release (like all minor releases) fixes a few bugs and adds a few new features. As a few random examples, HLint now warns on a redundant DefaultSignatures language extension, suggests fmap in preference to liftM and warns when otherwise is used as a pattern variable. There is a complete change log in the repo.
Coordinated concurrent programming in Syndicate
Tony Garnock-Jones and Matthias Felleisen.
2016 Most programs interact with the world: via graphical user interfaces, networks, etc. This form of interactivity entails concurrency, and concurrent program components must coordinate their computations. This paper presents Syndicate, a novel design for a coordinated, concurrent programming language. Each concurrent component in Syndicate is a functional actor that participates in scoped conversations. The medium of conversation arranges for message exchanges and coordinates access to common knowledge. As such, Syndicate occupies a novel point in this design space, halfway between actors and threads. If you want to understand the language, I would recommend looking at sections 1 to 2.2 (motivation and introducory examples) and then jumping at section 5, which presents fairly interesting designs for larger programs.
Concurrent program components must coordinate their computations to realize the overall goals of the program. This coordination takes two forms: the exchange of knowledge and the establishment of frame conditions. In addition, coordination must take into account that reactions to events may call for the creation of new concurrent components or that existing components may disappear due to exceptions or partial failures. In short, coordination poses a major problem to the proper design of effective communicating, concurrent components.
This paper presents Syndicate, a novel language for coordinated concurrent programming. A Syndicate program consists of functional actors that participate in precisely scoped conversations. So-called networks coordinate these conversations. When needed, they apply a functional actor to an event and its current state; in turn, they receive a new state plus descriptions of actions. These actions may represent messages for other participants in the conversations or assertions for a common space of knowledge.
Precise scoping implies a separation of distinct conversations, and hence existence of multiple networks. At the same time, an actor in one network may have to communicate with an actor in a different network. To accommodate such situations, Syndicate allows the embedding of one network into another as if the first were just an actor within the second. In other words, networks simultaneously scope and compose conversations. The resulting tree-structured shape of networked conversations corresponds both to tree-like arrangements of containers and processes in modern operating systems and to the nesting of layers in network protocols . Syndicate thus unifies the programming techniques of distributed programming with those of coordinated concurrent programming.
By construction, Syndicate networks also manage resources. When a new actor appears in a conversation, a network allocates the necessary resources. When an actor fails, it deallocates the associated resources. In particular, it retracts all shared state associated with the actor, thereby making the failure visible to interested participants. Syndicate thus solves notorious problems of service discovery and resource management in the coordination of communicating components.
In sum, Syndicate occupies a novel point in the design space of coordinated concurrent (functional) components (sec. 2), sitting firmly between a thread- based world with sharing and local-state-only, message-passing actors. Our de- sign for Syndicate includes two additional contributions: an efficient protocol for incrementally maintaining the common knowledge base and a trie-based data structure for efficiently indexing into it (sec. 3). Finally, our paper presents eval- uations concerning the fundamental performance characteristics of Syndicate as well as its pragmatics (secs. 4 and 5).
Our examples illustrate the key properties of Syndicate and their unique combination. Firstly, the box and demand-matcher examples show that Syndicate conversations may involve many parties, generalizing the Actor model’s point-to-point conversations. At the same time, the file server example shows that Syndicate conversations are more precisely bounded than those of traditional Actors. Each of its networks crisply delimits its contained conversations, each of which may therefore use a task-appropriate language of discourse.
Secondly, all three examples demonstrate the shared-dataspace aspect of Syndicate. Assertions made by one actor can influence other actors, but cannot directly alter or remove assertions made by others. The box’s content is made visible through an assertion in the dataspace, and any actor that knows id can retrieve the assertion. The demand-matcher responds to changes in the dataspace that denote the existence of new conversations. The file server makes file contents available through assertions in the (outer) dataspace, in response to clients placing subscriptions in that dataspace.
Finally, Syndicate places an upper bound on the lifetimes of entries in the shared space. Items may be asserted and retracted by actors at will in response to incoming events, but when an actor crashes, all of its assertions are automatically retracted. If the box actor were to crash during a computation, the assertion describing its content would be visibly withdrawn, and peers could take some compensating action. The demand matcher can be enhanced to monitor supply as well as demand and to take corrective action if some worker instance exits unexpectedly. The combination of this temporal bound on assertions with Syndicate’s state change notifications gives good failure-signalling and fault-tolerance properties, improving on those seen in Erlang .
Syndicate draws directly on Network Calculus , which, in turn, has borrowed elements from Actor models [16,17,18], process calculi [19,20,21,22,23], and actor languages such as Erlang , Scala , E  and AmbientTalk .
This work makes a new connection to shared-dataspace coordination models , including languages such as Linda  and Concurrent ML (CML) . Linda’s tuplespaces correspond to Syndicate’s dataspaces, but Linda is “generative,” meaning that its tuples take on independent existence once created. Syndicate’s assertions instead exist only as long as some actor continues to assert them, which provides a natural mechanism for managing resources and dealing with partial failures (sec. 2). Linda research on failure-handling focuses mostly on atomicity and transactions , though Rowstron introduces agent wills  and uses them to build a fault-tolerance mechanism. Turning to multiple tuplespaces, the Linda variants Klaim  and Lime  offer multiple spaces and different forms of mobility. Papadopoulos  surveys the many other variations; Syndicate’s non-mobile, hierarchical, nameless actors and networks occupy a hitherto unexplored point in this design space.Some of the proposed designs were surprising to me. There is a reversal of perspective, from the usual application-centric view of applications being first, with lower-level services hidden under abstraction layers, to a more medium-directed perspective that puts the common communication layer first -- in the example of the TCP/IP stack, this is the OS kernel.
Recently, at a summer-school-like event, we were discussing pen-and-paper role playing. I’m not sure if this was after a session of role-playing, but I was making the point that you don’t need much or any at all of the rules, and scores, and dice, if you are one of the story-telling role players, and it can actually be more fun this way.
As an example, I said, it can make sense if one of the players (and the game master, I suppose) reads up a lot about one aspect of the fantasy world, e.g. one geographical area, one cult, one person, and then this knowledge is used to create an exciting puzzle, even without any opponents.
I’m not quite sure, but I think I fell asleep shortly after, and I dreamed of such a role playing session. It was going roughly like this:
I (a human), and my fellows (at least a dwarf, not sure about the rest) went to some castle. It was empty, but scary. We crossed its hall, and went into a room on the other side. It was locked towards the hall by a door that covered the door frame only partly, and suddenly we could see a large Ogre, together with other foul folk not worth mentioning, hammered at the door. My group (which was a bit larger in that moment) all prepared shooting arrows at him the moment it burst through the door. I had the time to appreciate the ingenuity that we all waited for him to burst through, so that none of the arrows would bounce of the door, but it did not help, and we ran from the castle, over a field, through a forest, at the other side of which we could see, below a sleep slope, a house, so we went there.
The path towards that was filled with tracks that looked surprisingly like car tracks. When we reached the spot there was no house any more, but rather a cold camp side. We saw digging tools, and helmets (strangely, baseball helmets) were arranged in a circle, as if it was a burial site.
We set up camp there and slept.
It occurred to me that I must have been the rightful owner of the castle, and it was taken by me from my brother and his wife, who denied my existence or something treacherously like that. When we woke up at the camp side, she were there, together with what must be my niece. My sister in law mocked us for fighting unsuccessfully at the castle, but my niece was surprised to see me, as I must have a very similar appearance to my brother. She said that her mother forbid it, but she nevertheless sneakily takes out something which looks like a Gameboy with a camera attachment and a CompactFlash card from her mothers purse, puts it in and take a photo of me. This is when I realize that I will get my castle back.
At that moment, I woke up. I somewhat liked the story (and it was a bit more coherent in my mind than what I then wrote down here), so I wanted to write it down. I quickly fetched my laptop. My friends at the summer school were a bit worried, and I promised not to mention their names and concrete places, and started writing. They distracted me, so I searched for a place of my own, lied down (why? no idea), and continued writing. I had to to touch writing on my belly, because my laptop was not actually there.
I also noticed that I am back at the camp side, and that I am still wearing my back protector that I must have been wearing while fighting in the castle, and which I did not take off while sleeping at the camp side. Funnily, it was not a proper medieval amour, but rather my snowboarding back protector.
At that moment, I woke up. I somewhat liked the story (and it was a bit more coherent in my mind than what I then wrote down here), so I wanted to write it down. I quickly got up, started my laptop, and wrote it down. And this is what you are reading right now.
Off to bed again, let’s see what happens next.