December 14, 2023

5 Reasons to Learn Haskell (Blockchain)



As discussed in a previous blog, Haskell is a functional programming language at the core of the Cardano network and for Cardano developers. Due to its significance, EMURGO Academy is running a free Haskell online course for prospective and interested blockchain developers to learn Haskell.

Since there are other popular programming languages available, one might be wondering what learning Haskell could do for a developer’s career. As it turns out, the applications of Haskell and the doors it opens are quite impressive. 

In this blog, we’ll focus on all the advantages learning Haskell can offer and how you can start learning about Haskell with EMURGO Academy at the bottom.

What’s Haskell?

Haskell is a purely functional programming language that uses Lambda calculus. It’s a high-level programming language that allows developers the ability to code any type of logic using this paradigm. It is based on diverse types of functions and type systems, including dynamic types, static types, and type inference. As a purely functional language, It has no secondary effects on programs. This means each input delivers the exact result without changing the program’s status.

Haskell is functional which means its code is entirely made of functions. Running a Haskell program consists of evaluating expressions or functions applied to arguments. In  Haskell code, the main program itself is a function with the rest of the logic as inputs to an argument that gives the program’s output as a result.

The Haskell programs are built from a main function that is defined in terms of other functions, these in turn are defined as more functions, until at the lowest level the functions are language primitives.

As such, Haskell requires a different type of thinking than most programming languages. This is the barrier most programmers with prior experience have when learning Haskell. For people new to programming, that won’t be an obstacle.

So, why learn Haskell?

5 reasons to learn Haskell

Reason #1: The most complete functional language

Among functional programming languages, Haskell is perhaps the most complete example. Many other languages in the same category have borrowed from Haskell and its design has also inspired some of the functionalities in languages such as Python.

This makes Haskell the perfect gateway to the entire ecosystem of functional programming. The features pioneered by the language have been taken and reused in several other languages to the point that Haskell almost sits at the center of all of them. 

By learning Haskell a person can be exposed to the entire functional ecosystem. Also, from Haskell, jumping to Rust, Python, Erlang, and Clojure is simpler. This makes it one of the most versatile languages of the functional family.

Reason #2: A wide range of applications

Cardano uses Haskell as the basis for the network and smart contracts. That should make it one of the top choices for those looking to enter the blockchain industry. Yet, there are many more other reasons to learn Haskell. 

Haskell is a language that is used in a variety of industries. It’s a home in the aeronautics field and NASA has several of its systems written in Haskell. The assurances the code can give for critical components make it ideal for these applications. 

The financial industry also uses a lot of Haskell. A good number of banks, trading firms, and fintech projects use functional programming and Haskell is the top choice in many of these places. This is because the code is more readable and easier to maintain, and in turn, it is easier to find bugs and reduce the risk of exploits. 

Haskell has found its way also into the social networks industry. Facebook uses the language for three of its systems:

  • Sigma: an anti-abuse platform that processes more than a million requests per second.
  • Glean: a system for collecting and working with facts about source code.
  • Haxl: a framework for efficient and concise data fetching.

Eaton is a manufacturer of electrical, and hydraulic equipment, as well as components for the aviation and automotive sectors. It uses Haskell for tasks such as scripting, hardware simulation, remote control tools for vehicle systems, and other ideas. 

That’s just to mention some of the myriad uses for Haskell outside of Cardano. Its uses are many and found across many industries, so it’s worthwhile to learn this language for those looking to expand their opportunities. 

Reason #3: Understand the fundamentals of Cardano

Haskell was chosen to be the base computer language of the Cardano blockchain. The entire network from the ground up was written in Haskell. The different things built on top of the network all require interacting with this Haskell base code.

Haskell allows developers to go deep into Cardano’s network architecture. Those projects looking to change things at the base layer require Haskell developers to do so or projects looking to launch new programming languages for the network. 

Reason #4: Switch quickly to new smart contract languages

As Haskell is the core of the Cardano network and the basis for smart contracts on the network, learning it allows a blockchain developer the ability to switch between languages quickly. The functional logic of Haskell permeates the entire network and extends to the alternative languages.

The best example is Plutarch, a domain-specific language for Cardano validators also based in Haskell. It’s an advanced choice that makes transactions as small as possible for projects which can make them as cheap as possible. 

Yet Plutarch is very advanced and complex, so learning Haskell is the best way to understand Plutarch. The same is true for the other languages that are on Cardano and allow developers to launch smart contracts. 


Read more: The various programming languages available for building on Cardano


Reason #5: Build secure smart contracts 

Cardano smart contracts resemble pure functions that come from the world of functional programming. The inputs and outputs of the function are defined, and if anything changes in the function, the ID of the network switches to reflect these modifications.

Understanding the way pure functions are implemented and how the logic works is all from the Haskell domain. Those who take the time to learn the language have a greater chance to grasp the way smart contracts work on Cardano and create better, responsive, and secure smart contracts.    

Enroll now with EMURGO Academy to learn Haskell
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Whether you’re looking for a free basic online Haskell course or a more comprehensive Haskell developer course, EMURGO Academy is the right place for you.

The education unit of EMURGO, EMURGO Academy has trained nearly 3,000 developers and professionals to date on Cardano and blockchain principles using curated content and practical hands-on training.

To learn more about the free batch, visit here.

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