[erlang-questions] Erlang meets physics

Jared Kofron <>
Fri Mar 16 02:18:47 CET 2012


Very cool... and unusual for Erlang.  Well, I will be at Erlang Factory this year, so maybe some of us physicists (ex and otherwise) can
discuss it over a beer.

Jared K

On Mar 15, 2012, at 11:56 AM, pietje wrote:

> Hi All,
> 
> Just my 2 cents.
> I am an ex physicist too. Used to do research on QCD (Drell-Yan process) calculating Feynman diagrams.
> 
> For a couple of years I've been busy writing an erlang program to handle Feynman diagrams algebraically. Lots of fun. 
> 
> regards, Pieter Rijken
>  
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> On Monday, 12 March 2012 02:34:04 UTC+1, Jared Kofron wrote:
> Hi All,
> I've been using Erlang at work for a few years now, and I thought I'd throw my experience out there, as 
> my application is a little different than what you usually see on the list - I am a graduate student at the
> Center for Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Washington, and use Erlang extensively
> in my work.
> In my experience, something that Erlang is really great at but doesn't receive much attention for these days
> is managing and interacting with hardware.  In any physics experiment of even modest sizes, you wind up
> having to keep track of the state of various pieces of equipment, often modify that state, and constantly 
> interrogate particular values.  For example, we might want to change the current in a magnetic trap, turn
> that trap off altogether, or simply read back the voltage drop across our superconducting magnet.
> 
> So far, I have deployed Erlang in this zone for two separate experiments (SNO+, a large particle physics
> experiment in Canada) and Project 8 (a small nuclear physics experiment here in Seattle).  Both times have
> been great successes, and I have found the reception of Erlang in this market to be great.  In general, what
> I have done is wrap a hardware management layer with some kind of outside world interface. For SNO+, we
> used Webmachine and RESTful control, and for Project 8 we actually conduct all communication 
> by using CouchDB as a message passing interface.
> 
> Physicists are suspicious creatures, but once you demonstrate the feature set that you get for practically
> free with OTP, they see the advantage pretty quickly.  On top of that, the development cycle for sophisticated 
> applications can be greatly reduced - more than once it made my group float to the top in terms of meeting
> goals.
> 
> In short, as far as I am concerned, Erlang has found a new niche in the world of Physics, and I intend to 
> spread the word as much as I can!
> 
> Jared Kofron
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