[racket] Purely Functional needs "One Memory/Massively Parallel"

From: Lawrence Bottorff (borgauf at gmail.com)
Date: Wed Feb 5 11:48:50 EST 2014

Please correct me if I'm way off base, but the whole issue of a purely
functional language being impractical because it should not "go outside"
the function (e.g. for IO) seems to hinge on the fact that there is (today)
a segmented, discrete, world out there where data and apis etc. reside
outside of your box running your program. What if you had limitless live
memory and parallelism? Isn't the vaunted Google File System just this sort
of "One Memory/Massively Parallel" beast? If your purely functional program
were running in such a One Memory/massively parallel space, you could have
some Ueber-function encompassing the data, within which all your subsequent
functions could play. You could do anything and everything totally purely
functionally. Right? So with Haskell, everything is fine, functionally pure
-- until you have to go outside to interact with stuff outside your
program. So don't go "outside." Right?

I'm coming at this from an old Cartography/GIS angle. Many years ago I
heard of a project to write GIS software in (then new) Smalltalk. But it
was deemed not feasible because the model was expected to bring into live
memory an entire mapping project with all its geographic classes
instantiated and ready to go . . . then you would do your work. But of
course today, even on home machines, we measure memory in gigabytes.

Obviously, today's computing world is about dealing with lots and lots of
discrete things: machines, datasets, apis, etc. So, my specific question
is: Isn't purely functional really just waiting for One Memory/Massive
Parallel wherein all its supposed foibles are moot? The whole "sort-of"
functional world simply takes all the discretism for granted. But Isn't the
purely functional paradigm driving us toward a day when some sort of OM/MP
(virtual or real) is the rule?

Grand Marais, MN
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