[erlang-questions] Which choice is better? Function or Case

Bob Ippolito <>
Thu Mar 7 19:44:22 CET 2013


A performance difference between case and functions can manifest when you
extract a case from a function into another function. Function calls aren't
free unless they get inlined.


On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 10:02 AM, Robert Virding <
> wrote:

> Just to explain *why* Garret's example produces the same code. Internally
> the compiler uses the same code to handle the pattern matching in function
> clauses and in case clauses so the result is naturally the same. So to
> reinforce what Garret said: choose that which feels the best.
>
> Some personal comments:
>
> - Sometimes it does feel a bit excessive to create small functions for
> everything even if it more pure.
> - If you want to pattern match on multiple values it looks much better in
> a separate function.
>
> Robert
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Garrett Smith" <>
> > To: "饕餮" <>
> > Cc: "erlang-questions" <>
> > Sent: Thursday, 7 March, 2013 5:34:48 PM
> > Subject: Re: [erlang-questions] Which choice is better? Function or Case
> >
> > On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 3:11 AM, 饕餮 <> wrote:
> > > I wonder if Function call is better than Case when both of they can
> > > implement the target I want?
> > > It seems like  write a function instead of case could make the code
> > > more
> > > clear .
> > > But which one is fast when it running?
> > > I intend to change the case to function to make the code more
> > > clear. Is this
> > > valuable?
> >
> > Here's a module:
> >
> > %% == begin ===========================
> >
> > -module(case_vs_function).
> >
> > -export([with_case/1, with_function/1]).
> >
> > with_case(Msg) ->
> >     case Msg of
> >         "hello" -> {ok, hi};
> >         "goodbye" -> {ok, bye};
> >         _ -> error
> >     end.
> >
> > with_function("hello") -> {ok, hi};
> > with_function("goodbye") -> {ok, bye};
> > with_function(_) -> error.
> >
> > %% == end =============================
> >
> > And here's the compiled core Erlang:
> >
> > %% == begin ===========================
> >
> > module 'case_vs_function' ['module_info'/0,
> >                            'module_info'/1,
> >                            'with_case'/1,
> >                            'with_function'/1]
> >     attributes []
> > 'with_case'/1 =
> >     %% Line 5
> >     fun (_cor0) ->
> >         %% Line 6
> >         case _cor0 of
> >           %% Line 7
> >           <[104|[101|[108|[108|[111]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','hi'}
> >           %% Line 8
> >           <[103|[111|[111|[100|[98|[121|[101]]]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','bye'}
> >           %% Line 9
> >           <_cor3> when 'true' ->
> >               'error'
> >         end
> > 'with_function'/1 =
> >     %% Line 12
> >     fun (_cor0) ->
> >         case _cor0 of
> >           <[104|[101|[108|[108|[111]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','hi'}
> >           %% Line 13
> >           <[103|[111|[111|[100|[98|[121|[101]]]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','bye'}
> >           %% Line 14
> >           <_cor2> when 'true' ->
> >               'error'
> >         end
> > 'module_info'/0 =
> >     fun () ->
> >         call 'erlang':'get_module_info'
> >             ('case_vs_function')
> > 'module_info'/1 =
> >     fun (_cor0) ->
> >         call 'erlang':'get_module_info'
> >             ('case_vs_function', _cor0)
> > end
> >
> > %% == end =============================
> >
> > And the same core Erlang with distractions removed:
> >
> > %% == begin ===========================
> >
> > 'with_case'/1 =
> >     fun (_cor0) ->
> >         case _cor0 of
> >           <[104|[101|[108|[108|[111]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','hi'}
> >           <[103|[111|[111|[100|[98|[121|[101]]]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','bye'}
> >           <_cor3> when 'true' ->
> >               'error'
> >         end
> >
> > 'with_function'/1 =
> >     fun (_cor0) ->
> >         case _cor0 of
> >           <[104|[101|[108|[108|[111]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','hi'}
> >           <[103|[111|[111|[100|[98|[121|[101]]]]]]]> when 'true' ->
> >               {'ok','bye'}
> >           <_cor2> when 'true' ->
> >               'error'
> >         end
> >
> > %% == end =============================
> >
> > This should alleviate any guilt you may have over using functions,
> > instead of case expressions, to make your code more obvious.
> >
> > Garrett
> > _______________________________________________
> > erlang-questions mailing list
> > 
> > http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
> >
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> 
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