Ousterhout papers and Erlang

Hal Snyder <>
Sat Apr 6 20:06:43 CEST 2002


A little Erlang advocacy.

Two of my favorite papers from Usenix past are by John Ousterhout.
(IIRC the second was quoted heavily as part of the 1999 keynote address.)


Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century
http://home.pacbell.net/ouster/scripting.html

This paper explains, and makes a very rough stab at quantifying, the
gains to be had using a scripting language such as Perl or Tcl.

I think one can realize the same sorts of gains using Erlang, for many
of the same reasons mentioned. Where I work, one change might be that,
where Ousterhout writes of using Perl or Tcl to glue together
different programs, we use OTP to glue together different network
resources in a distributed and reliable way.


Why Threads Are A Bad Idea (for most purposes)
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/ccg/people/rob/software/threads/ousterhout_threads.html

Certainly developing a multi-process app in Erlang shields one from
the week-long bughunts seen when a project goes deep into
C++/threading/STL country - trying to determine whether a segfault
that happens after a million or so transactions comes from
application, system libs, toolchain, or OS.

Not to say using threads is always bad; but doing so relentlessly
distributes into one's code complexity that has for decades been
sequestered in the operating system.



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