[erlang-questions] A modest proposal to eliminate tuples

Dmitry Demeshchuk demeshchuk@REDACTED
Wed Aug 27 20:51:12 CEST 2014

I, personally, think lists are obsolete too. Instead, everyone should just
use maps for everything:

{ 1 => first_element, 2 => second_element, 3 => third_element }.

On Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:21 AM, Chris Pacejo <colanderman@REDACTED>

> Tuples are clearly unnecessary and a wart in Erlang's design.
> Consider all the operations tuples provide:
> Construction: X = {A,B,C}
> Destruction: {A,B,C} = X
> Pattern matching: case X of {foo,B,C} -> ... end
> Note now that these operations are provided equally by lists:
> Construction: X = [A,B,C]
> Destruction: [A,B,C] = X
> Pattern matching: case X of [foo,B,C] -> ... end
> And note that lists provide the additional functionality of indexing
> and consing, which tuples do not provide.
> Clearly, using tuples instead of lists provides no benefit, and to
> simplify the language they should be deprecated in OTP 18, and removed
> by OTP 19.  To support this transition, a compiler option can be
> provided to maintain the ill-conceived tuple notation for legacy code;
> may I suggest +distinguish_homogenous_and_heterogenous_collections.
> Now, surely detractors will claim that the distinction between tuples
> and lists signals programmer intent, permits bytecode optimization,
> and enables rich typechecking in Dialyzer.  I claim these purported
> benefits are bollocks.  I, and no doubt others, routinely find the
> need to iterate over tuple elements, and to store unrelated data
> together in a single list.  Anyone who claims that such things are not
> necessary clearly has not ever written a complex program.  (I suspect
> anyone who thinks structurally-typed records and key-value maps serve
> different purposes falls into this group.)
> I hope you all agree, and that we can look forward to a future Erlang
> supporting lists and maps as its sole data constructors.
> - Chris P
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Best regards,
Dmitry Demeshchuk
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