[erlang-questions] Is it worth commenting this guy?

David Hopwood <>
Tue Aug 28 22:07:01 CEST 2007

Robert Virding wrote:
> When scanning for references to Erlang I occasionally come across this guy:
> http://rebelscience.blogspot.com/
> He is advocating/developing a system called COSA and continually comparing
> it to Erlang.

I don't buy the argument that deterministic timing is necessary for
reliability, which many of his other arguments depend on.

> While I appreciate the references I personally think he is a
> bit bonkers and just not getting it.

Oh, he's a total kook (see
<http://www.rebelscience.org/Seraphim/Physics.htm> and
<http://www.rebelscience.org/Seven/bible.html> for example).
And some of the claims he makes for the model are clearly bonkers:

# I will argue further that moving to a signal-based, synchronous (**)
# software model will not only result in an improvement of several orders
# of magnitude in productivity, but also in programs that are guaranteed
# free of defects, regardless of their complexity.

The model itself, however, is not nearly as bonkers as some of the other
stuff I've looked at. It's a pity that he is overselling it.

Indeed, you can buy microcontrollers that are programmed using graphical
dataflow diagrams (not quite the same thing as COSA's synchronous reactive
model, but close enough), such as Crouzet's Millenium range. They work and
they are quite widely used, but personally I find that graphical programming
of this type doesn't scale very well -- the diagrams quickly get too messy
to understand easily, and there is no automatic way to prettify them, so
the programmer's time is wasted in doing so.

Many textual programming languages (Erlang, O'Caml, Haskell, E, etc.)
can express a given amount of functionality in significantly less space
than any graphical language I've seen, and that matters a great deal to
being able to grasp enough of the program at one time to avoid some kinds
of error.

David Hopwood <>

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