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Practical Foundations for Programming Languages by Robert Harper

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40 Futures and Speculations

A future is a computation whose evaluation is initiated in advance of any demand for its value. Like a suspension, a future represents a value that is to be determined later. Unlike a suspension, a future is always evaluated, regardless of whether its value is actually required. In a sequential setting futures are of little interest; a future of type τ is just an expression of type τ. In a parallel setting, however, futures are of interest because they provide a means of initiating a parallel computation whose result is not needed until (presumably) much later, by which time it will have been completed.

The prototypical example of the use of futures is to implementing pipelining, a method for overlapping the stages ...

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