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

Miles Fidelman mfidelman@REDACTED
Wed Jun 25 22:16:54 CEST 2014

Joe Armstrong wrote:
> I can't be sure but at a guess smalltalk-80. The version I used was
> on a sun workstation and I used to take a coffee break when it garbage 
> collected.

Ok, well after concurrency was out of the picture.

> To be honest I was more influenced by the books than the
> implementation which was very slow - the red green and blue books
> were great reading.

Ain't that the truth.  Talk about books with long-term influence. Along 
with the Smalltalk issue of Byte, and Ted Nelson's Dream Machines. :-)

>     - 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).
> All the smalltalk stuff did talk about "sending messages to objects" - 
> so was
> in a sense a message passing model - there were a few problems with
> this - message passing was really just a disguised function call, and 
> time and errors didn't fit into the model.

Exactly.  What a disappointment that turned out to me when one actually 
started to play with it.

> In Erlang we really do send a message to an object (well a process 
> actually) - so Erlang is probably the only OO language there is :-)

I periodically think about what it would look like, and work like, to 
combine Erlang's core constructs and plumbing (which I continue to think 
of as actors) with a Smalltalk like environment (inspectors, browsers, 



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

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