Lightweight monadic regions

Oleg Kiselyov, Chung Chieh Shan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We present Haskell libraries that statically ensure the safe use of resources such as file handles. We statically prevent accessing an already closed handle or forgetting to close it. The libraries can be trivially extended to other resources such as database connections and graphic contexts. Because file handles and similar resources are scarce, we want to not just assure their safe use but further deallocate them soon after they are no longer needed. Relying on Fluet and Morrisett's [4] calculus of nested regions, we contribute a novel, improved, and extended implementation of the calculus in Haskell, with file handles as resources. Our library supports region polymorphism and implicit region subtyping, along with higher-order functions, mutable state, recursion, and run-time exceptions. A program may allocate arbitrarily many resources and dispose of them in any order, not necessarily LIFO. Region annotations are part of an expression's inferred type. Our new Haskell encoding of monadic regions as monad transformers needs no witness terms. It assures timely deallocation even when resources have markedly different lifetimes and the identity of the longest-living resource is determined only dynamically. For contrast, we also implement a Haskell library for manual resource management, where deallocation is explicit and safety is assured by a form of linear types. We implement the linear typing in Haskell with the help of phantom types and a parameterized monad to statically track the type-state of resources. Categories and Subject Descriptors D.3.2 [Programming Languages]: Language Classifications - Applicative (functional) languages; D.3.3 [Programming Languages]: Language Constructs and Features - Polymorphism; D.4.2 [Operating Systems]: Storage Management - Allocation/deallocation strategies

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Effect systems
  • Monads
  • Parametric polymorphism
  • Regions
  • Resource management
  • Subtyping
  • Type classes
  • Type systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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