Why Functional Program Synthesis Matters (In the Realm of Genetic Programming)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)
232 Downloads (Pure)


In Genetic Programming (GP) systems, particularly those that target general program synthesis problems, it is common to use imperative programming languages to represent evolving code. In this work, we consider the benefits of using a purely functional, rather than an imperative, approach. We then demonstrate some of these benefits via an experimental comparison of the pure functional language Haskell and the imperative language Python when solving program synthesis benchmarks within a grammar-guided GP system. Notably, we discover that the Haskell programs yield a higher success rate on unseen data, and that the evolved programs often have a higher degree of interpretability. We also discuss the broader issues of adapting a grammar-based GP system to functional languages, and highlight some of the challenges involved with carrying out comparisons using existing benchmark suites.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGECCO '22: Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference Companion
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450392686
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022
EventGenetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference 2022 - hybrid, Boston, United States
Duration: 9 Jul 202213 Jul 2022


ConferenceGenetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference 2022
Abbreviated titleGECCO 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • functional programming
  • genetic programming
  • program synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Theoretical Computer Science


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