[erlang-questions] widefinder update

Matthias Lang <>
Mon Oct 29 18:02:36 CET 2007

Anders Nygren writes:

 > > > -The compiler should treat don't care variable (_Var) the same
 > > > as (_), and not bind them.

Careful here, it's possible to interpret what you wrote in ways which
lead to incorrect reasoning about programs.

_Var is not the "don't care" variable in general. As far as observable
behaviour goes, _Var *is* bound and the compiler is not allowed to not
bind variables of that form in general. Some examples where the
difference is observable:

  46> f(), <<_A, _B>> = <<1,2>>.
  47> f(), <<_A, _A>> = <<1,2>>. 
  ** exited: {{badmatch,<<1,2>>},[{erl_eval,expr,3}]} **
  48> f(), <<_, _>> = <<1,2>>.  

Variables longer than one character starting with an underscore are
special in only one way: they suppress a warning.

Naturally the compiler is free to optimise away variables which aren't


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