We believe that strong static typed, pure functional programming (FP) has a lot to offer in terms of software reliability and performance. However it has a well-deserved reputation for being difficult to learn for newcomers. FP can also be difficult to use for experienced functional programmers.
Multicore computing is ubiquitous, and other promising parallel architectures either available or on the horizon; we believe that it is necessary that parallel and concurrent programming is available and straight forward.
Plasma hopes to address these challenges with the following goals.
To combine declarative and imperative programming features.
We will combine the safety and reasoning power of strongly typed pure FP with a familiar imperative-like syntax. We will support loops, arrays and other imperative programming features. This benefits both experienced developers and novices.
Keeping things simple is an excellent engineering practice. It also makes the language and tools easier to understand.
Plasma will have a reduced emphasis and dependence on abstract concepts like monads. They're still supported, but now they can be learnt gradually. Many interfaces will have more sensible names, eg:
Functor. We will also aim for good tooling and a consistent syntax; things that are different will look different.
Excellent parallelism and concurrency support.
Channels, mvars, semaphores, streams, futures and software transactional memory provide safer abstractions than traditional threads and locks concurrency.
Deterministic parallelism makes parallelism available without constraining the structure of your program or affecting its declarative semantics, eg: Haskell's
parfunction or strategies.
Automatic parallelism introduces deterministic parallelism as a compiler optimisation.
For more information and an overview of some features please see the Presentation at Compose :: Melbourne 2016.
- Declaratively pure
- helping programmers more confidently understand their programs, making debugging easier. Purity also makes it easier to apply many optimisations including automatic parallelisation. Plasma uses a resource system to make effects safe. Resources are composable unlike monads.
- A strong, static type system
- supporting ADTs, parametric polymorphism, interfaces and type inference.
- Eagerly evaluated.
- Eager evaluation makes performance and other behaviours more predictable.
- Direct support for loops
- for map, reduce, filter and combinations. Loops work on different aggregate types. See Loops in the reference manual.
- Bytecode and native code
- Generic token-based bytecode interpreter, in the future more optimal bytecode interpreters for each major platform. and hopefully native code generation.
- Foreign Function Interface (FFI)
- Interoperability with C.
- Multiple concurrency abstractions
- Tasks, channels, mvars, futures and STM.
- Manual and automatic parallelisation
- Parallelise programs based on data-flow, loops and possibly pipelines either by adding annotations or automatically. See my Ph.D. research.
- Free/Libre software
- MIT License
The following things have been published about Plasma.
- Plasma Programming Language Compose :: Melbourne Conference Aug, 2016