Resource-Aware Feldspar https://github.com/Feldspar/raw-feldspar

Latest on Hackage:0.2.1

This package is not currently in any snapshots. If you're interested in using it, we recommend adding it to Stackage Nightly. Doing so will make builds more reliable, and allow stackage.org to host generated Haddocks.

BSD3 licensed by Emil Axelsson
Maintained by 78emil@gmail.com

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Resource-AWare Feldspar

This package is a complete reimplementation and partly a redesign of the Feldspar EDSL (formerly implemented in feldspar-language). Feldspar aims to raise the abstraction level of numeric processing and DSP. Its compiler generates efficient C code suitable for running on embedded targets.


RAW-Feldspar can be installed directly from Hackage, preferably in a sandbox:

cabal install raw-feldspar

The installation can be sped up a bit (and the size of the installation reduced) by adding a flag to language-c-quote (a dependency of RAW-Feldspar):

cabal install --constraint="language-c-quote -full-haskell-antiquotes" raw-feldspar

However, this flag should normally only be used when installing in a sandbox that has no other packages depending language-c-quote.

Getting started

The best way to learn how to use RAW-Feldspar at the moment is to look through the examples. We suggest going through the files named "TutN_..." in ascending order. The files are well-documented.

The easiest way for users of cabal to get access to the examples is to run

cabal unpack raw-feldspar

There is also some guidance in the Haddock documentation.

The vector library is central to programming in Feldspar. Its general operation is explained in the Haddock documentation, and many examples are using vectors.

Hello world!

Here is the obligatory "Hello world!" to get you going:

import qualified Prelude
import Feldspar.Run

helloWorld :: Run ()
helloWorld = printf "Hello world!\n"

The program can be run from GHCi:

*Main> runCompiled helloWorld
cc -std=c99 /tmp/edsl_16816927771714636915.c -o /tmp/edsl_16816927771714636915

#### Running:
Hello world!

Note the call to cc before the code is run. This requires you to have a C compiler installed.

Many programs can also be run without a C compiler, using runIO:

*Main> runIO helloWorld
Hello world!

If you just want to look at the beauty of the generated C code, you can instead run:

*Main> icompile helloWorld
#include <stdio.h>
int main()
    fprintf(stdout, "Hello world!\n");
    return 0;

Numeric computations

OK, since Feldspar is mostly about computation, we need one more example: a function computing the sum of the squares of the numbers from 1 to n (commonly known as the "Hello world" of vector fusion):

import qualified Prelude
import Feldspar.Run
import Feldspar.Data.Vector

sumSq :: Data Word32 -> Data Word32
sumSq n = sum $ map (\x -> x*x) (1...n)

The meaning of the function can be understood by comparing it to the standard Haskell function

sumSq :: Word32 -> Word32
sumSq n = sum $ map (\x -> x*x) [1..n]

(Note that sum and map have been redefined in Feldspar. However, they behave analogously to their counterparts for lists.)

In order to turn a pure function such as sumSq into a runnable program, we can use the construction connectStdIO $ return . sumSq. This results in a program that gets its input from stdin and prints its output to stdout:

*Demo> icompile $ connectStdIO $ return . sumSq
#include <stdint.h>
#include <stdio.h>
int main()
    uint32_t v0;
    uint32_t state1;
    uint32_t v2;

    fscanf(stdin, "%u", &v0);
    state1 = 0;
    for (v2 = 0; v2 < (uint32_t) (1 < v0 + 1) * v0; v2++) {
        uint32_t let3;

        let3 = v2 + 1;
        state1 = let3 * let3 + state1;
    fprintf(stdout, "%u", state1);
    return 0;

Note how the whole sumSq computation has been fused into a single loop without any array allocation.

External libraries


Zeldspar is an implementation of the Ziria DSL for wireless programming on top of RAW-Feldspar.


raw-feldspar-mcs extends RAW-Feldspar and Zeldspar with multicore and scratchpad support.

The repository contains many examples written for the Parallella multicore architecture.


feldspar-synch is a library that extends Feldspar with Yampa-style synchronous streams.

It contains a simple polyphonic synthesizer as a demonstration. The synthesizer may serve as a simple example of a complete (toy) application written in RAW-Feldspar. It also demonstrates how to make bindings to an external C library (the ALSA sound library).

Why RAW-Feldspar?

The previous Feldspar implementation was split over three packages:

(feldspar-io, which is still at an early stage of development, adds support for writing interactive programs calling external functions, etc.)

RAW-Feldspar is essentially a replacement of all three packages. It emerged as an exploration of two new ideas:

  • A new design in which memory usage is explicitly managed by the user
    • In the previous implementation, most array manipulation was done using pure functions, giving the user little chance to control memory usage and often leading to unwanted array copying.
  • Express the compiler as a translator to a typed low-level imperative EDSL

RAW-Feldspar has since become a respectable replacement of the previous implementation. RAW-Feldspar typically generates slicker code based on native types and functions. Due to the new design, the user also has more control over array allocations, leading to lower memory usage and fewer array copies.

However, RAW-Feldspar also has some limitations and lacks some features compared to the previous version. Some features are missing simply because they have not been ported yet; others are missing for more fundamental reasons.

Limitations and missing features

See limitations and missing features.

There is also a list of possible enhancements and fixes.


The implementation of RAW-Feldspar builds heavily on three generic packages:

  • syntactic, providing:
    • a generic deep embedding of pure expressions
    • generic optimizations
    • etc.
  • operational-alacarte, providing:
    • a generic deep embedding of monadic programs (based on the "Operational monad")
  • imperative-edsl, providing:
    • operational instructions for imperative programs
    • C code generation
    • etc.

imperative-edsl is used both to represent monadic Feldspar programs and the low-level imperative code produced by the Feldspar compiler (following the idea in Compilation as a Typed EDSL-to-EDSL Transformation).

The implementation also makes heavy use of the philosophy described in Combining Deep and Shallow Embedding of Domain-Specific Languages. The basic idea is to have a low-level core language -- the deep embedding -- and to build the user interface as shallow extensions on top of the core language.

A prime example of the technique is the vector library, which provides high-level vector representations with a rich programming interface. These vectors only exist in the meta-language (i.e. Haskell), and by the time the Feldspar compiler is called, the vectors are already gone and what is left is imperative code with highly optimized loops. We saw an example of this when compiling the sumSq example above.

Another example is feldspar-synch, which extends Feldspar with synchronous streams. The whole package is implemented as a shallow extension on top of RAW-Feldspar.

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