[erlang-questions] Erlang basic doubts about String, message passing and context switching overhead

Dan Gudmundsson <>
Sun Jan 15 10:01:42 CET 2017


We have started to work on a new string module, we will make a PR when we
have decided directions of how the api should look like.

Basic stuff like uppercase, lowercase, to_nfc, to _nfd and gc
(grapheme_clusters) are implemented for unicode:chardata() input, I have
used elixir's module as inspiration.

That is the easy part, writing a nice api on top of that is the hard part
and naming the module
something different than string.

/Dan

On Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 3:25 AM Michael Truog <> wrote:

> This thread started to talk about the need for unicode functionality in
> Erlang and how it exists currently in Elixir but not in Erlang.  I created
> a repository with the Elixir functions created as Erlang functions in an
> Erlang module as an example of what I want at
> https://github.com/okeuday/unicode_data/
>
> The generated module (unicode_data) only includes functions from the first
> Erlang module contained in unicode.ex (Elixir.String.Unicode) though it
> does bring up some important topics:
> 1) Add the unicode version to the Erlang module version.  The generated
> unicode_data module has a timestamp suffix, so we know both the unicode
> version and the timestamp when the unicode_data module was generated.
> 2) Use only lists, not binaries, to make sure all temporary data stays on
> the heap of the Erlang process.  That should be best for performance,
> though I haven't proved that with any performance testing.
>
> I haven't added tests, though I have compared the unicode_data Erlang
> module, to the Elixir.String.Unicode module and the data looks correct.
> Mainly thought this would help the discussion.
>
> Best Regards,
> Michael
>
>
> On 01/10/2017 10:58 AM, Bhag Chandra wrote:
>
> Hello,
>
> I have been coding in Erlang for 2 years.  A wonderful language but not
> very big community, so I cant discuss my questions with programmers around
> me (Java, Python guys). I found out about this list today.
>
> I have some fundamental doubts about the Erlang. It would be great if
> someone can help me clarify them.
>
>
> 1) "Strings in Erlang are internally treated as a list of integers of each
> character's ASCII values, this representation of string makes operations
> faster. For example, string concatenation is constant time operation in
> Erlang."  Can someone explain why?
>
> 2) "It makes sense to use Erlang only where system's availability is very
> high".  Is it not a very general requirement of most of the systems?
> Whatsapp to Google to FB to Amazon to Paypal to Barclays etc they all are
> high availability systems, so we can use Erlang in all of them?
>
> 3) "Every message which is sent to a process, goes to the mailbox of that
> process. When process is free, it consumes that message from mailbox". So
> how exactly does process ask from the mailbox for that message? Is there a
> mechanism in a process' memory which keeps polling its mailbox. I basically
> want to understand how message is sent from mailbox to my code in process.
>
> 4) We say that a message is passed from process A to process B by simply
> using a bang (!) character, but what happens behind the scenes to pass this
> message? Do both processes establish a tcp connection first and then pass
> message or what?
>
> 5) At 30:25 in this video ( https://youtu.be/YaUPdgtUYko?t=1825 ) Mr.
> Armstrong is talking about the difference between the context switching
> overhead between OS threads and Erlang processes. He says, thread context
> switching is of order 700 words but Erlang process context switching is ...
> ?
> I cant understand what he said, if someone could tell.
>
>
> P.S. Please excuse for any grammatical errors, English is not my first
> language.
>
>
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