[erlang-questions] The Beauty of Erlang Syntax

Steve Davis <>
Tue Feb 24 11:25:01 CET 2009

Like many people from a Java/C++ background, my first reaction to
Erlang was abhorrence at the syntax. After some months of real-world
experience of actually using Erlang, I feel compelled to make a couple
of observations.

- Erlang has the greatest expressive power of any language I have used
(caveat: I have not used Haskell or any other FP language).

- Erlang is an intensely practical language. The platform libraries
make it very easy to write useful applications.

- Erlang is easy to write... once you know what you are trying to
achieve. The challenge is that it asks you to think hard about what
you actually want to do. Once that part is clear, everything becomes
extremely simple and straightforward. This quality makes this language
extremely powerful and "cruft-free".

- There can be no doubt lambda calculus is "ultimate".  A more trivial
way of saying this is that all computer processing is simply
transforming one bit pattern into another bit pattern f(X) -> X'

- Elegant programming in Erlang is much more of a challenge than with
OO languages where "what is right" is fairly easy to understand.
Erlang feeds the creative soul in a way that's just not evident or
truly possible "in the kingdom of nouns".

- The medium/long term future of hardware cannot be anything but FPGAs
and I cannot imagine any multithreaded dance in Java/C++ that can
possibly keep up with this trend. With Erlang, I feel that I can cope
with the next decade.

I will never willingly program in an imperative language again.


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