SPA Conference session: Erlang: What All The Fuss Is About

One-line description:An introduction to the Erlang programming language from first principles
Session format: Workshop (75 mins) [read about the different session types]
Abstract:Moore's Law has forced the hand of the hardware designer, and their bid is multi-core; the prudent programmer will answer that bid with Erlang.

Erlang is an actor-based, dynamically-typed functional programming language with very interesting properties, capabilities and underlying philosophy. Erlang has recently garnered much attention, particularly because of the ease with which concurrent processing can be implemented, and the scalability that may be achieved in doing so using the Erlang runtime ("Erlang/OTP").

In a strange twist of fate, although Erlang is almost twenty years old, the nature of the problems it was originally designed to solve (high-performance telephone packet switching) place it at the forefront of technologies capable to address the impending multi-core era.

The intent of this session is to empower developers with the right knowledge and advice to quickly begin using Erlang in a test-driven manner. The presentation will be a fast and furious introduction to Erlang and provide an overview of basic principles, supporting tools, and libraries such as the distributed database Mnesia.

Attendees will leave with a high-level understanding of Erlang's capabilities, nomenclature and syntax. Attendees are not expected to have any experience with functional programming or Erlang, although some knowledge of functional programming will be beneficial. Those who wish to follow along with the exercises will need to have set up an Erlang environment beforehand, although most (if not all) of the tools demonstrated will be made available to attendees at the start of the session.
Audience background:No prior experience required, although some exposure to the functional paradigm will be helpful.
Benefits of participating:Attendees will come away with an understanding of Erlang and core tools used to cut code in it, including test-driven development, code coverage and debugging tools and techniques.
Materials provided:Various resources distributed on CD, including all the demonstrated tools (where copyright permits) to expedite getting going with Erlang.
Process:The session will be delivered as an interactive lecture and alternate between examining short code snippets and demonstrating running code and utilities.
Detailed timetable:I prefer to not provide a detailed timetable, and to gauge the level and interests of the audience in a dynamic fashion. I will prepare more material than will be possible to get through, to ensure there is enough to keep interest levels high and to cater for varying tastes.
1. Edward Garson
Zuhlke Engineering Ltd
2. Benjamin Nortier
Zuhlke Engineering