Adding a C++ function

To add a “builtin” C++ operation to bali-phy’s Haskell code, you need to do two things: 1.. write the code for function in a C++ file. 2. declare the C++ builtin function in a Haskell module. The second step is necessary to make the C++ function visible in Haskell.

Declaring a C++ builtin in Haskell

A builtin is declared via the following syntax:

foreign import bpcall "module_name:cpp_func_name" haskell_name :: Type

For example, the Haskell function poisson_density is declared with the following line from haskell/Distributions.hs:

foreign import bpcall "Distribution:poisson_density" poisson_density :: Double -> Int -> LogDouble

The quoted string specifies the loadable module that contains the function and the C++ function name. Since this function is in the module “Distribution”, its source code goes in src/builtins/

The C++ function name is obtained by adding builtin_function_ in front of poisson_density. So the C++ function will be called builtin_function_poisson_density.

The rest of the declaration specifies the Haskell name (poisson_density) and the type (Double -> Int -> Double).

Writing a builtin in C++

The C++ function for a builtin must be defined in one of the C++ files in the src/builtins directory, and the function name must begin with builtin_function_. The function must also be declared extern "C" (to avoid name mangling).

For example, the poisson density function is written in src/builtins/ as follows:

extern "C" closure builtin_function_poisson_density(OperationArgs& Args)
    double mu = Args.evaluate(0).as_double();
    int n = Args.evaluate(1).as_int();
    return { poisson_pdf(mu,n) };





This is a positive real number represented in terms of its logarithm. Operators have been defined so that you can multiply, add, subtract, and divide this type.


All C++ objects are accessed from Haskell inherit from this type.


An expression ref is basically either an atomic value or an Object followed by a list of expression_refs

See src/computation/expression/expression_ref.H


A closure is an expression_ref with an environment.

See src/computation/closure.H