Why Erlang is the best concurrent language available

Joe Armstrong <>
Thu Jan 23 22:05:38 CET 2003

On Thu, 23 Jan 2003, James Hague wrote:

> Joe Armstrong wrote:
> >My philosophy is  "write as *beautiful* code as
> >possible" - if it's too slow buy a faster machine.
> When I first saw you write this a few years ago, I laughed and disagreed,
> but now I'm a convert.  "Beautiful" doesn't mean "dumb," but it does mean
> "clean and understandable," so there's a good chance that the beautiful code
> may end up being speedy anyway, because it's so easy to fiddle with.  A
> project falls apart when the code gets so tangled and confusing that you're
> afraid to touch it, and, wow, is that an easy line to cross C or C++.

I never said "write dumb code" - to me beautiful code is clear,
concise and does *exactly* what it is supposed to and *nothing* else
with a minuimum of fuss. It usually ends up being faster than ugly
code - that's because God likes your code if it's beautiful.

Think of code as an exercise in applied poetry - rather like Haiku
only more difficult - now writing Haiku Erlang functions *that* would
be difficult

> Aside #1: I am *stunned* at how quick the Erlang compiler is, especially
> considering just how much stuff is going on under the hood, and how much the
> code leans on higher order functions.  If someone tried to write the
> compiler in C, I doubt they could improve its performance (and I also doubt
> it would ever get finished!)

Oh dear and there I was *appauled* at how slow it was :-)

> Aside #2: I do think all the effort put into speeding up the Erlang emulator
> and runtime system has been well spent, though, as it makes my 333MHz P2 at
> home seem speedy :)

It's not bad actually - hat's off to Bjorn and co.


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