[erlang-questions] A modest proposal to eliminate tuples

Sean Cribbs <>
Wed Aug 27 20:40:25 CEST 2014


Must be April 1 somewhere.

On Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 1:34 PM, Anthony Ramine <> wrote:
> Are we 1st April already? I didn’t implement yet my patch to make tuples 0-indexed. :(
>
> But well, that is overseded by your proposal.
>
> --
> Anthony Ramine
>
> Le 27 août 2014 à 20:21, Chris Pacejo <> a écrit :
>
>> Tuples are clearly unnecessary and a wart in Erlang's design.
>> Consider all the operations tuples provide:
>>
>> Construction: X = {A,B,C}
>> Destruction: {A,B,C} = X
>> Pattern matching: case X of {foo,B,C} -> ... end
>>
>> Note now that these operations are provided equally by lists:
>>
>> Construction: X = [A,B,C]
>> Destruction: [A,B,C] = X
>> Pattern matching: case X of [foo,B,C] -> ... end
>>
>> And note that lists provide the additional functionality of indexing
>> and consing, which tuples do not provide.
>>
>> Clearly, using tuples instead of lists provides no benefit, and to
>> simplify the language they should be deprecated in OTP 18, and removed
>> by OTP 19.  To support this transition, a compiler option can be
>> provided to maintain the ill-conceived tuple notation for legacy code;
>> may I suggest +distinguish_homogenous_and_heterogenous_collections.
>>
>> Now, surely detractors will claim that the distinction between tuples
>> and lists signals programmer intent, permits bytecode optimization,
>> and enables rich typechecking in Dialyzer.  I claim these purported
>> benefits are bollocks.  I, and no doubt others, routinely find the
>> need to iterate over tuple elements, and to store unrelated data
>> together in a single list.  Anyone who claims that such things are not
>> necessary clearly has not ever written a complex program.  (I suspect
>> anyone who thinks structurally-typed records and key-value maps serve
>> different purposes falls into this group.)
>>
>> I hope you all agree, and that we can look forward to a future Erlang
>> supporting lists and maps as its sole data constructors.
>>
>> - Chris P
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>> 
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>
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-- 
Sean Cribbs <>
Software Engineer
Basho Technologies, Inc.
http://basho.com/



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