Doo bee doo bee doo

Lukas Convent*, Sam Lindley, Conor McBride, Craig McLaughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


We explore the design and implementation of Frank, a strict functional programming language with a bidirectional effect type system designed from the ground up around a novel variant of Plotkin and Pretnar's effect handler abstraction. Effect handlers provide an abstraction for modular effectful programming: a handler acts as an interpreter for a collection of commands whose interfaces are statically tracked by the type system. However, Frank eliminates the need for an additional effect handling construct by generalising the basic mechanism of functional abstraction itself. A function is but the special case of a Frank operator that interprets no commands. Moreover, Frank's operators can be multihandlers which simultaneously interpret commands from several sources at once, without disturbing the direct style of functional programming with values. Effect typing in Frank employs a novel form of effect polymorphism which avoids mentioning effect variables in source code. This is achieved by propagating an ambient ability inwards, rather than accumulating unions of potential effects outwards. With the ambient ability describing the effects that are available at a certain point in the code, it can become necessary to reconfigure access to the ambient ability. A primary goal is to be able to encapsulate internal effects, eliminating a phenomenon we call effect pollution. Moreover, it is sometimes desirable to rewire the effect flow between effectful library components. We propose adaptors as a means for supporting both effect encapsulation and more general rewiring. Programming with effects and handlers is in its infancy. We contribute an exploration of future possibilities, particularly in combination with other forms of rich type systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9
JournalJournal of Functional Programming
Early online date31 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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