[erlang-questions] "Erlang as a First Language" -- crazy? or just stupid?

Jarrod Roberson jarrod@REDACTED
Mon Dec 21 15:55:23 CET 2009

On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 4:15 AM, Joe Armstrong <erlang@REDACTED> wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 1:55 AM, Jarrod Roberson <jarrod@REDACTED>
> wrote:
> > Actually Erlang as a first language is not that bad of an idea,
> especially
> > if the only thing the person will ever support is that one application.
> > Erlang is hard to learn for people coming from imperative C based syntax
> > languages and especially those with decades of experience.
> > 20 years of doing something a particular way is hard to UN-learn.
> How do you know Erlang is hard to learn - what evidence do you have
> for this statement?

my personal experience and the personal experience of friends of mine when
we decided to teach ourselves Erlang and functional programming. Unlearning
25 years of imperative procedural thinking is not easy. I have had much
success hacking at Erlang and asking questions here on the list only to
confirm that the code I wrote is just Java in Erlang. It is really hard to
un-learn what you "know how to do". My argument is that Erlang and
functional programming would be easier to learn FIRST. I started out with
BASIC and ASM on 6502's back in the mid-80's. I am 100% self-taught, having
a mentor or teacher to ask questions interactively would probably lower the
bar to functional programming would lower the bar to entry. All my friends
that have a CS background unanimously say that LISP was the hardest course
they took in school. Thinking in recursive pattern matching functional
paradigms is hard for most people it seems. What would make learning Erlang
much easier to learn on your own would be a "Thinking in Erlang" style book.
As good as your book is Joe, and I have it and read it many times now, is it
doesn't really teach me how to Think in functional terms. Something of a
Rosetta stone of here is how you do something in Java/C++/Python, here is
what the idiom is in Erlang would be great. As I figure stuff out, with the
wonderful help of this group, I am posting about my "discoveries" on my
blog. It is helping my friends follow along behind me and learn what I have
learned from my perspective.

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