[erlang-questions] The future of Erlang and BEAM

Jesper Louis Andersen jesper.louis.andersen@REDACTED
Sat Feb 11 23:06:57 CET 2012

On 2/11/12 11:34 AM, Radek wrote:
> So the question arises: is Erlang still the best platform to build 
> such demanding applications ? Wouldn't it be better if we stick to 
> one, very mature (J)VM and try to make it even better than trying to 
> achieve something similar with less resources available (size of OTP 
> team vs. JVM team, supporters, etc) ? And is it possible at all to 
> achieve this kind of performance and adoption with BEAM ?
Performance is but one of many aspects of writing a program. Usually 
performance is possible, but bounded by human time spent. That is, if 
you have limited time, say 3 days, to implement something then usually 
the solutions are very different performance wise. One of the distinct 
advantages of Erlang is how fast you can build up prototypes and make 
them run. This means you have ample time to sit back and tune your 
system for better performance. You have more time to change algorithms 
and tune for faster execution.

Another strength of Erlang is that programs can evolve. Adding another 
process with a certain responsibility or altering the internal 
implementation of a process is easy: the messages passed forces an API 
between your components. This yields a system where you can gradually 
build it up over time.

Erlang is a rarely seen triumvirate: fault-tolerance, 
distribution+message passing, and functional sequential programming. You 
often see other systems implementing one or two of those, but I have not 
yet seen all three implemented in another language. This places Erlang 
in a niche, and I think many people who do take time to learn the 
details enjoy the ideology of Erlang as a fabric for program construction.

Jesper Louis Andersen
   Erlang Solutions Ltd., Copenhagen, DK

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