[erlang-questions] Erlang is *not* a implementation of the Actor model Re: Go vs Erlang for distribution

Miles Fidelman mfidelman@REDACTED
Wed Jun 25 18:56:07 CEST 2014

Joe, Thanks for the info.  A bit of follow-up if I might (embedded inline):

Joe Armstrong wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 5:20 PM, Miles Fidelman 
> <mfidelman@REDACTED <mailto:mfidelman@REDACTED>> wrote:
>         On Wednesday 25 June 2014 00:09:35 Robert Virding wrote:
>             I think it is very lucky that we weren't interested in, or
>             worried about,
>             the theoretical aspects, or that we had heard about the
>             actor model. If we
>             had we would probably still be discussing whether we were
>             doing the actor
>             model and which parts of it, or where we differed and how
>             important that
>             was? Or should we differ and maybe we should drop the
>             differences to we
>             would comply, etc ... :-)
>             We were trying to solve *THE* problem and this was the
>             best solution we
>             could come with. It was purely pragmatic. We definitely
>             took ideas from
>             other inputs but not from the Actor model.
>     Robert, I know it's probably documented somewhere, but...
>     1. what do (did) you see as "*THE* problem" you were trying to
>     solve at the time
> Joe here - I'll dive in with a reply:
> Bjarne Däckers thesis has a good outline of the problem the thesis is
> here http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=
> This blog has a good summary of Bjarnes thesis
> http://jlouisramblings.blogspot.se/2012/10/ramblings-on-thesis-of-bjarne-dacker.html
Thanks for the pointers - and yes, the blog post is a very nice summary!


>     2. what sources DID you draw from (other than the predecessor
>     languages at Ericsson), are there any that you'd consider primary
>     influences?
> Prolog and Smalltalk in equal measure. Pattern matching and syntax was 
> inspired by Prolog. Messaging from Smalltalk. We took a few ideas on 
> guarded commands from
> Dijkstra.
This is mostly in the form of historical curiosity of course, but...  
can you say a bit more about the Smalltalk influence, and in particular, 
which version of Smalltalk?  I ask, because:
- The earlier versions of smalltalk included (at least in theory) a lot 
of concurrency (objects seemed a bit more like actors), whereas later 
versions, starting with Smalltalk-72, pretty much dropped concurrency as 
a focus (there was really interesting exchange with Alan Kay on this, a 
while back, on the fonc email list).
- During that time period (very early 70s), there was a lot of 
cross-fertilization between Alan Kay (Smalltalk), Hewitt (PLANNER, actor 
model), and Steele and Sussman (Scheme)
(I'm kind of exploring Robert's statement that "I think it is very lucky 
that we weren't interested in, or worried about, the theoretical 
aspects, or that we had heard about the actor model." Particularly, in 
that Alan Kay cites PLANNER as a key influence on Smalltalk.  I'm kind 
of interested in the origins and history of languages that treat 
processes as fundamental units of computation, vs. the object model).


Miles Fidelman

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

More information about the erlang-questions mailing list