24 May 2014

Shaken, Not Stirred

Here's something I didn't know (well, amongst a multitude):
Erlang powers things like WhatsApp and crucial parts of half the world's mobile phone networks. It's going to be great fun to see what will happen when the technology becomes less scary and the next wave of enthusiasts joins the party.

Just as Graham leveraged Lisp and a handful of folks to make a ton of money, a handful of folks leveraged Erlang to make a rather larger ton of moolah. Revenge of the iconoclasts.

The "less scary" reference is to Elixir, about which Joe is writing. I dabbled in Erlang a few years back, but it wasn't (and still isn't, near as I can tell) RDBMS friendly. Nor am I much of a fan of immutable data. The first such language I saw was GW-BASIC; you either have changeable variables (yes, a redundancy) or you copy "variables" 'til the cows come home. Too many cows for my taste.

Funny thing, though: R uses the <- assignment syntax, as does Elixir. I suspect this be not coincidence. Rstudio provides a simple macro in its editor, so using it isn't tough on the fingers. In the good ole days, APL keyboards had a single character/key for this syntax/glyph. Lineage is everything.
Early APL implementations did not have control structures (do or while loops, if-then-else), but by using array operations, use of structured programming constructs was not necessary, as an operation was carried out on all the elements of the array in a single statement.

Sounds kind of familiar, what? Iverson was a math first, as was Codd.

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