[erlang-questions] suitability of erlang

Ulf Wiger <>
Wed Oct 10 11:23:52 CEST 2012

On 10 Oct 2012, at 08:37, Rustom Mody wrote:

> Hello
> We are considering Erlang for a project involving significant data-processing under severe time-crunch
> I am trying to understand the sentence (from http://www.erlang.org/faq/introduction.html#id49576 )
> ----------
> The most common class of 'less suitable' problems is characterised by performance being a prime requirement and constant-factors having a large effect on performance.
> ----------
> How do I understand the '... and constant-factors…'

For example, if the problem involves a significant sequential
component that needs to be very fast, and cannot be made 
fast by distributing the work across multiple work units.

In some cases, even if the problem can scale, it may be the case
that Erlang is simply too slow to ever reach parity with very fast
sequential solutions. One such example is the ant colony 
optimization experiment [1], where the Erlang solution did scale
well, but started off being ca 130x slower on one core than the 
MLTon Standard ML solution. The fact that the Erlang solution 
got 1.9x speedup with two cores then becomes rather academic.

[1] http://eric_rollins.home.mindspring.com/erlangAnt.html

This is of course only speaking in general terms. In many cases,
small parts of performance-critical parts can be factored out and
written in e.g. C, with the rest of the application written in Erlang.

Ulf W

Ulf Wiger, Co-founder & Developer Advocate, Feuerlabs Inc.

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