Erlang Programming Language

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What Does Erlang Programming Language Mean?

The Erlang programming language is a general-purpose, simultaneous and garbage-collected programming language, which also serves as a runtime system. The sequential derivative of Erlang is a functional language with firm calculation, single assignment and dynamic data entry, which concurrently follows the Actor model.


Developed by Joe Armstrong in 1986, Erlang was first released by Ericsson as a proprietary language, then released in 1998 as an open source language.

Ericsson engineered Erlang to support distributed, fault-tolerant, soft-real-time and non-stop applications. Erlang supports hot swapping; thus code can be replaced without restarting the system.

Techopedia Explains Erlang Programming Language

In most languages, threads are viewed as complex error-prone areas. However, Erlang allows language-level development for the creation and handling of processes.

This is meant to simplify simultaneous programming for programmers. In Erlang, all concurrency is explicitly clear; processes exchange data through message passing rather than shared variables, eliminating the existence and need for locks. Erlang’s development concepts are much like the development of Erlang-built systems.

Mike Williams, an Erlang development team member and inventor, abides by the following philosophy:

The Best Working Techniques: Find the best working techniques, using prototyping through the developer's design. Skills

Not Just Ideas: Ideas are not enough. A developer must also have the skills to realize the ideas and verify that they work.

Minimize Errors: Keep errors to a minimum, preferably only during the research phase rather than during production.

A major advantage of Erlang programming language is its support for threading and concurrency with a small group of primitives efficiently generating and linking processes.

These processes are an Erlang application structure’s basic elements and freely employ the communicating sequential processes (CSP) model.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.