[erlang-questions] Erlang for youngsters

Miles Fidelman mfidelman@REDACTED
Mon Jun 16 11:31:37 CEST 2014

Garrett Smith wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:51 AM, Torben Hoffmann
> <torben.hoffmann@REDACTED> wrote:
> -snip-
>> I think that a learning resource focused on teaching people the Erlang model from the
>> ground up would be a great improvement. A clear narrative around how do we solve a
>> problem the Erlang way. Teaching the basic constructs is not the problem.
>> My initial target for such a learning resources would be young people in the higher
>> grades of elementary school, say 12-15 years. Why? Because I want to influence them
>> before their minds are totally corrupted by other programming models.
>> I don't think we would have to dumb anything down in particular for this group - we
>> just have to find a cool example and organise the learning around how to become so
>> good that one can solve such a problem.
>> Some sort of game will probably be the best candidate, say, some sort of Transport
>> Tycoon clone?!?!
> I don't have enough experience teaching programming to this age group
> to provide anything more than a hunch. But I suspect that the Erlang
> way, which is hard enough for very seasoned programmers to grok, might
> be a bit ambitious for these young learners.
> I'm speaking in particular about the model that emerges when you
> isolate processes. It changes everything: your approach to building
> software (move from state oriented to activity oriented), error
> handling (move from defensive measures to assertive/let-it-crash),
> program structure (from monolith to system), and so on. The benefits
> of this shift are hard to get across, in my experience anyway. I wish
> it wasn't, or I wish I was better at communicating.

I'm with the folks who suggest that this group has fewer pre-conceptions 
to unlearn.

It strikes me that the actor model is far more natural for certain 
classes of problems - network code, simulation, and gaming come to 
mind.  It's simply conceptually easier to think in terms of LOTS of 
independent processes.

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra

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