Monday, September 29, 2003

I got the following reply from Alan Kay on the Squeak Mailing List when I replied about Erlang to a fellow Squeaker. I thought it was cool that he too thought it was worthy of looking at.

Hi Folks --

Erlang is worth looking at.

At 11:53 AM +0000 9/29/03, Blaine Buxton wrote:
    I've been reading up on Erlang myself. They have an approach where everything is a process and you send messages to these processes.

This was the approach of the original Smalltalk. It is also used by David Reed in the object-process scheme in Croquet (back to the future!).

    Just imagine having a separate process for each Squeak object.

Andreas Raab has made process switching in Squeak extremely efficient ....

    They argue that processes should be as easy to create as objects. You would think this would kill performance, but actually, the systems they have written in it scale very well (the web server they wrote in Erlang can handle 10x the capacity of a Apache server, if I remember correctly). They also boast numbers of 99.99999% availablity for the Ericsson switch that was written in mostly Erlang. Now, those boasts are what got me interested. It is a functional language and they are big on no mutable state like most functional languages. They argue that Erlang makes multi-processing easy and in fact easier than single process systems. They seem very anti-OO on their list,

Then they don't understand OO or history ...

    but I have found that the whole process thing maps very well to objects.

It does.

    But, I haven't gotten that far. It just seems they have been scarred by the {} crowd and static typed OO systems.

These are OO systems?

    I haven't had a whole lot of time to really get much deeper than that. I bought the book and have been working through some of the examples. They do a lot with pattern matching

Again, like Smalltalk-72.

    and it's made me think about certain programming topics differently.

As I mentioned, this approach is well worth studying. It also harks back to the tail-recursive ideas of Actors (Carl Hewitt) which were derived from Smalltalk, but have many interesting contributions of their own.



    I know I wasn't the person you were asking for the answer, but I thought I'd chime in.
    Blaine Buxton
    My Amps: Smalltalk, Lisp, and Ruby

      From: Daniel Vainsencher
      Hi Richard.

        "Richard A. O'Keefe" wrote:
        I like Smalltalk (and Erlang and Prolog) a lot


      Sorry about the off topic interjection, but can you write a paragraph or
      two about Erlang? I've tried to get the flavor of it from
      site/documentation, but haven't quite made it yet.


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