This boils down to an absolutely pivotal concept in functional programming
called referential transparency. This concept is one of the main stumbling
blocks for imperative programmers learning FPLs like F#. I
certainly had trouble grokking this concept when I ditched C++.
In essence, when a new immutable data structure is created from an existing
data structure, the new data structure has a lot in common with the original.
An imperative programmer immediately assumes (incorrectly) that the original
data structure must have been copied. In fact, there is never any need to
copy immutable data because you can simply refer back to the original, i.e.
referencing is transparent.
So FPLs effectively handle everything by pointer (mutable or immutable) and
the only copying you'll ever incur is copying pointers. In this case, the
pointers inside the record will be copied, which is nothing to worry about.
In the vast majority of cases, succinct F# code is efficient F# code. As
long as you don't explicitly copy lots of data, there won't be much copying
going on "under the hood".
Background reading on the reference counting vs tracing garbage collection debate - Eight years ago I answered a question on Stack Overflow about the suitability of OCaml and Haskell for soft real-time work like visualization: "*for real-ti...
5 months ago