Our experience in Corunna (was Re: Erlang use in Italy)

Victor M. Gulias gulias@REDACTED
Tue Apr 12 11:48:43 CEST 2005

Corrado Santoro <csanto@REDACTED> writes:

> "Who is teaching Erlang? All students take the degree learning C, C++
> and Java. This is what companies require" (a professor forgetting that
> students should learn *how to program*, not *how to program with a
> specific language*).

Hi all,

Let me talk a little bit about our experience here in University of
Corunna. I usually conduct courses to fourth-year students; those
students have learnt different programming languages in the past,
including some declarative languages such as OCaml or Prolog. These
are the courses:

  * "Information System Design", a mandatory course where I teach software 
     modelling using Design Patterns and UML and its implementation using Java. 

  * "Functional Programming", an optional course that is taken by a subset of 
    the students (about 30% of the total). Here we cover some theoretical 
    stuff such as lambda-calculus and type systems with practical implementation 
    exercises in OCaml. In addition, we save two-three weeks for an introduction 
    to distributed programming in Erlang as a (good) example of the use of 
    a functional language in the real world. 

    To ease the presentation, I use some of the examples/patterns used
    in the "Information System Design" course and the students really
    appreciate how different a concurrent system is with both
    approaches (in favor of Erlang, of course). In fact, they ask me why I am
    not teaching Erlang instead of Java in the mandatory course... you already 
    know the answer...

Of course, you can argue that people that chose the FP course are
students that already like functional programming (almost true) but I
also found students that did not take the FP course that want to carry out
projects with Erlang for his/her master's thesis.

Well, the case is that here in Galicia (a poor region, almost no
industry, ERDF zone 1) we now have some small IT companies that were
created in the last years using Erlang as a tool to develop (some of)
its products...


Victor M. Gulias

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