[erlang-questions] hobbyists, erlang, elixir (was Improve $handle_undefined_function)

Rustom Mody rustompmody@REDACTED
Thu Jan 24 06:27:16 CET 2013

On Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM, Richard O'Keefe <ok@REDACTED> wrote:

And Rob Hagan at Monash had shown that
>      you could teach students more COBOL with one semester
>      of Scheme and one semester of COBOL than you could
>      with three semesters of COBOL.

Nice!  One of the difficulties in being a teacher is that we know:
- Yes, facts are important.
- Learning them is more important
- The learning-curve more so still.

In established disciplines like music-education this is a commonplace.
If we challenge the student too little, they lose interest; too much and
wrong habits get fostered and set.

One problem is that Computer Science departments simply do not have
> the time to teach everything they need to teach.  Students want to
> leave in 3 years with qualifications an employer will like, and
> employers want 'practical' languages in CVs.  I have a colleague
> who cannot spell because he was taught to read using the Initial
> Teaching Alphabet, so I'm less convinced about the educational
> benefits of neat languages than I used to be.

The problem in CS is that we do not agree (or even know) what is easy, what
is hard and how to calibrate from easy to hard. How many established
teachers know that concurrency can be easier than it is in C/Java?

In this respect I maintain a list of traditional CS-edu-mistakes at

On the other hand I should mention that I just finished teaching a course
on erlang.
I found it very hard.  I simply assumed that it is because I am too much of
a noob to really 'get' it yet. [When one has taught programming for 25
years, its funny how often one hears a beginning student protest: "The
compiler has a BUG!"]

However after seeing Simon's comments below, I feel a little mollified that
perhaps I am a fool but not an utter fool :-)

On Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM, Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@REDACTED>wrote:
> I was delighted to find Erlang's shell, which made using this compiled
> language much friendlier.  I was amazed by its remote capabilities.  But
> then I was bluntly disappointed by the difficulty of using it as an
> environment - even a trivial environment - for interactive applications.
>  It became clear quickly that the beauty of my examples would have to be
> abstract, because there wasn't going to be much I could show without
> endless preamble to distract readers from the basics.
> Erlang (or maybe it will be Elixir) has the power to be a language that
> transforms computing.  It has the right tools to solve common problems.
> However, it may take some extra work to make it easier for people to see
> that!
> Thanks,
> --
> Simon St.Laurent
> http://simonstl.com/
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