Getting started with Haskell: A beginner's guide

Are you interested in learning Haskell, but don't know where to start? Look no further! In this beginner's guide, we'll cover the basics of Haskell and get you up and running with your first program.

What is Haskell?

Haskell is a functional programming language that was first developed in the late 1980s. It is named after the logician Haskell Curry and is known for its strong type system and lazy evaluation.

Functional programming is a programming paradigm that emphasizes the use of functions to solve problems. In Haskell, functions are first-class citizens, meaning they can be passed as arguments to other functions and returned as values.

Installing Haskell

Before we can start programming in Haskell, we need to install it on our computer. Haskell is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.


To install Haskell on Windows, download the Haskell Platform from the official website ( and run the installer.


To install Haskell on macOS, download the Haskell Platform from the official website ( and run the installer.


To install Haskell on Linux, you can use your distribution's package manager. For example, on Ubuntu, you can run the following command:

sudo apt-get install haskell-platform

Your first Haskell program

Now that we have Haskell installed, let's write our first program. Open up your favorite text editor and create a new file called hello.hs.

In this file, we'll write a simple program that prints "Hello, world!" to the console. Here's the code:

main :: IO ()
main = putStrLn "Hello, world!"

Let's break down what this code does.

The first line declares a function called main that returns an IO action. IO is a type that represents input and output operations, such as reading from the console or writing to a file.

The second line defines the main function. It calls the putStrLn function, which takes a string as an argument and prints it to the console.

To run this program, open up a terminal and navigate to the directory where you saved hello.hs. Then, run the following command:

runhaskell hello.hs

You should see "Hello, world!" printed to the console.

Basic syntax

Now that we've written our first program, let's take a closer look at the syntax of Haskell.


Functions in Haskell are defined using the functionName arg1 arg2 = functionBody syntax. For example, here's a function that adds two numbers:

add :: Int -> Int -> Int
add x y = x + y

This function is called add and takes two arguments, both of type Int. It returns the sum of the two arguments.


Haskell has a strong type system, which means that every value has a type. Types are declared using the :: syntax. For example, in the add function above, we declared that the arguments and return value are all of type Int.


Lists are a fundamental data structure in Haskell. They are declared using square brackets and can contain any type of value. For example:

numbers :: [Int]
numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

This declares a list called numbers that contains the integers 1 through 5.

Pattern matching

Pattern matching is a powerful feature of Haskell that allows you to match on the structure of values. For example, here's a function that returns the first element of a list:

first :: [a] -> a
first (x:xs) = x

This function is called first and takes a list as an argument. It uses pattern matching to match on the structure of the list. If the list is non-empty, it returns the first element. If the list is empty, it will throw an error.


Congratulations! You've written your first Haskell program and learned some of the basics of the language. Haskell is a powerful and expressive language that can take some time to master, but with practice, you'll be writing elegant and efficient code in no time.

If you're interested in learning more about Haskell, there are many great resources available online. The Haskell website ( has a wealth of information, including tutorials, documentation, and a community forum.

Happy programming!

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