[erlang-questions] is there "return" in Erlang.

Edmond Begumisa ebegumisa@REDACTED
Mon Feb 28 20:04:16 CET 2011

On Tue, 01 Mar 2011 05:01:53 +1100, Kostis Sagonas <kostis@REDACTED>  

> Edmond Begumisa wrote:
>> How about...
>>  -define(CONF1, ..).
>> -define(CONF2, ..).
>>  judge() ->
>>    judge({a, get_a()}).
>>  judge({a, ?CONF1}) ->
>>    do_something(?CONF1);
>> judge({a, _}) ->
>>    judge({b, get_b()});
>> judge({b, ?CONF2}) ->
>>    do_other_thing(?CONF2);
>> judge({b, _}) ->
>>    do_things().
> Now, why on earth would you ever want to do that?  Wrap two terms in a  
> tuple only to take them apart by pattern matching?

I interpreted the question to be how he could get a similar flow to the  
original program rather than just literal conversion. I assumed his sample  
code was a summerised snippet of a much larger C program where a  
particular type of flow was giving him trouble duplicating in Erlang. I  
immediately identified with his predicament.

Having been there before, I tried to illustrate how he could achieve this  
by forgetting conversion and instead "adapting" to using tagging and  
pattern matching. Above, a/b/c..z  would be more meaningful tags in a  
larger program (i.e. names of configuration parameters) Then he'd match  
against particular parameters and perform the actions rather than a big  
deep nested case/if statements. They'd likely be chunks of code between  
where the tagging takes place and where it's matched so the tagging  
wouldn't be wasteful.

> What's wrong with using an auxiliary judge function with two separate  
> arguments instead?
> Or even better why not use separate judge_a and judge_b functions that  
> are both more efficient and make the programmer's intention clearer?

Because that's not how his original program was flowing. His use of the C  
"return" keyword indicated to me that the flow was important. That there  
was a particular type of flow he couldn't figure out how to do, and *that*  
was what he was interested in. Not the function itself.

> Sorry for the authoritative tone, but please think a bit more before you  
> give "advice" to novices; they might actually take your advice literally  
> and think that this is the proper way of writing programs in Erlang.

Again, my interpretation of the question was about controlling flow in  
absence of a C-style return: How do I flow like this without a return  
keyword? Adapting to think in terms of tagging and pattern-matching was  
non-obvious and important for me when learning Erlang and took many weeks  
of staring at OTP source to start to understand. I think the answer was  
relevant to the question.

- Edmond -

> Kostis
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