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Performance/Arrays

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1 General Array techniques

  • Remember that ordinary arrays are monolithic, and individual elements are not mutable. In particular, the (\\) operator copies the entire array, so it is rarely what you want. (Data.Array.Diff provides a variant of arrays with O(1) (\\), but that library has performance problems of its own).
  • Monolithic arrays are by no means useless! Powerful array-construction facilities like accumArray can often eliminate the need for truly mutable arrays.
  • If you really need mutable arrays for speed, then if possible use the ST variant, so that the stateful part of your program can be encapsulated (Data.Array.ST).

2 GHC-specific techniques

2.1 Use unboxed arrays (UArray, IOUArray)

GHC supports arrays of unboxed elements, for several basic arithmetic element types including Int and Char: see the Data.Array.Unboxed library library for details. Unboxed arrays support the same programmer interface as ordinary boxed arrays, so converting your code is easy. Using unboxed arrays will be a win in terms of both time and space.

There are also mutable unboxed arrays: IOUArray and STUArray (see Data.Array.IO and Data.Array.ST respectively). Using unboxed mutable arrays is often a good way to translate imperative algorithms into Haskell with similar performance.