Learn Erlang in 5 seconds - competition - win a prize

Niall Dalton <>
Thu Aug 24 15:53:10 CEST 2006

The 5 second pitch for Smalltalkers:

"Erlang is Smalltalk as Alan Kay wanted it"

Some ammunition for a talk useful to back this up..

- Smalltalkers often subscribe to the view that OO programming is about 
the exchange of messages between objects. So message oriented 
programming gives a starting point.

- For single assignment, Kay himself advocated it:

"Though [it] came from many motivations, two were central. ... [T]he 
small scale one was to find a more flexible version of assignment, and 
then to try to eliminate it altogether." Alan Kay History of Smalltalk 

"Doing encapsulation right is a commitment not just to abstraction of 
state, but to eliminate state oriented metaphors from programming."
Alan Kay, Early History of Smalltalk

And its quite fashionable really as advocated by Bloch and Beck:

Favor immutability. Joshua Bloch, Effective Java (2001)

Use value objects when possible. Kent Beck, Test Driven Development (2001)

- Re: Last call optimizations.

"Object-Oriented Programming in languages that don’t require tail-call 
optimizations makes no sense." Matthias Felleisen

- Re Concurrency:

"I can't understand why objects [of O-O languages] are not concurrent in 
the first place." Usually attributed to Robin Milner as cited in a 
Matsuoka paper ('93 I believe).

and apparently Kay himself early on described his early conception of 
objects as being "little computers" that would communicate with each 
other via messages.  Given the cross-fertilization with Hewitt's work on 
the Actor model I think its easy to claim he himself assumed massive 
concurrency as a good model.


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