Why Erlang is the best concurrent language available

Daniel Dudley <>
Fri Jan 24 03:32:54 CET 2003

James Hague wrote:
> Joe Armstrong wrote:
> > 
> > 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.
> Oh, I didn't mean to imply that you said to write dumb code--
> my apologies for that--but I think the typical reaction to
> what you consider "beautiful" code, at least from many
> programmers, is that it's horribly inefficient.  If you really
> stop and think about what's going on in some Erlang programs,
> like "I build up this list backward, then I reverse it at the
> end, creating an entirely new copy of the list," then it
> *sounds* pretty appalling.

Well, it is appalling. Knowing that recursion "winds up"
before it "winds down", why do it twice when once will
suffice? (Hey, I'm a poet but didn't know it!) :-)

> But that reaction is out of context.

Really? Try adding some costs, ie money, to the operation.
To most businesses, profitability is the driving context.

> When your frame of reference involves hundreds of millions or
> billions of cycles per second, with multiple machine
> instructions executing per cycle, well, that's the stuff of
> fairy tales. It's all so meaningless.  I say to go ahead and
> make use of all that nonsense to make things wonderful and
> understandable, not an intangible savings of thousands of
> cycles here and there.
> :)

If an operation can be made more efficient, the result of
which is an increase in turnover without an increase in
costs, then inherent lack of efficiency *is* appalling. In
other words, the opportunity to process more paying
customers in the same time frame -- without adding to your
costs, is hardly meaningless to the average businessman or

That said, everything is relative; compared to other
systems on the market, the Erlang way may not appear so
meaningless. ;-) Should one rest on one's laurels? Well,
no, because the competition is catching up.


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