[erlang-questions] make_ref bug or feature?

Joe Armstrong <>
Fri Mar 27 12:43:48 CET 2009

I got a question from Ivo Danihelka about make_ref().

Isn't make_ref() supposed to generate "an almost unique reference" the
manual says

    "Returns an almost unique reference.
     The returned reference will re-occur after approximately 2^82
calls; therefore it is unique enough for practical purposes."

If I start two erlang shells and evaluate the following in both shells:

1> io:format("~p~n",[term_to_binary(make_ref())]).

They *both* print the same thing - this violates the principle of
least astonishment.
(I thought I'd have to start 2^82 shells :-)

Is this a bug or a feature?


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