[erlang-questions] correct terminology for referring to strings

Michael Turner <>
Tue Jul 31 11:53:08 CEST 2012


> << An Erlang "string" is simply a list of integers.  Each integer can
> represent any Unicode codepoint/character. >>

Except that Unicode codepoints represents characters, right? You can't
have a representation of a representation.[*]

I suggest:

<< In Erlang, strings are represented as lists of integers. These
integers are Unicode codepoints, each representing a character. >>

That way, anybody who's unclear on what "codepoint" means gets a
freebie definition of it. In the Unicode context, it's probably wrong,
technically, but perhaps good enough for this purpose.

-michael turner

[*] Douglas Hofstadter might beg to differ, but he's not on this list.


On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 6:41 PM, Paul Barry <> wrote:
> Hi Joe.
>
> I think "string literal" is pretty widely understood (it even has a
> WikiPedia entry, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_literal).
>
> What threw me about your sentence was the use of the word 'codepoint',
> which will be OK for those already familiar with Unicode, but might
> confuse those who are not.  My feeling (and this might be a gross
> over-simplification) is that most North-American programmers know
> about Unicode but don't let it worry them too much, resulting in less
> of a familiarity with it than might be necessary (and I apologize to
> any North-American programmers that this comment rubs the wrong way).
> Perhaps "unicode characters" might be easier to read/understand?
> Although not probably totally technically correct...
>
> Another thing that you might wish to consider is breaking the sentence
> in two, as follows:
>
> << An Erlang "string" is simply a list of integers.  Each integer can
> represent any Unicode codepoint/character. >>
>
> Just my 2 cent.
>
> Paul.
>
> On 31 July 2012 10:24, Joe Armstrong <> wrote:
>> I'm working on a 2'nd edition of my book, and have got to strings :-)
>> Strings confuse everybody, including me so I have a few questions:
>>
>> To start with Erlang doesn't have strings - it has lists (not strings)
>> and it has string literals.
>>
>> I want to define a string - is this correct:
>>
>> << A "string" is a list of integers where the integers
>>       represent Unicode codepoints. >>
>>
>> Questions:
>>     Is the sentence inside << .. >> using the correct terminology?
>>     If not what should it say?
>>
>>     Is the sentence inside << ... >> widely understood, do you think this
>>     would confuse a lot of people?
>>
>>     Is the phrase "string literal" widely understood?
>>
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>> /Joe
>> _______________________________________________
>> erlang-questions mailing list
>> 
>> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
>
>
>
> --
> Paul Barry, w: http://paulbarry.itcarlow.ie - e: 
> Lecturer, Computer Networking: Institute of Technology, Carlow, Ireland.
> _______________________________________________
> erlang-questions mailing list
> 
> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions



More information about the erlang-questions mailing list