Erlang Express

Event date: 
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 09:00 to Friday, September 20, 2013 - 18:00
San Francisco, US

The course contains all the Erlang basics such as sequential and concurrent programming, along side error handling. The Erlang development environment is presented, with a special emphasis on the Erlang mode for Emacs alongside the major debugging tools. Good and bad programming practices are discussed, as are tools used to profile the system. OTP design principles and concepts are sneaked into the material as well as the exercises.

Target Audience: Software Developers,


  • Understanding of the basics of Erlang.
  • Read/Write/Design Erlang Programs.
  • Good knowledge of the development environment and tools.
  • Provides basics needed to attend the Advanced Erlang/OTP course

Course Contents:

  • Introduction: Introduction to the software needs of telecom control systems, followed by a history of Erlang, its features, and product and research examples within and outside Ericsson.
  • Basic Erlang: This section deals with Erlang data types and pattern matching. Functions, modules, and BIFs are discussed. Before the exercises, the Erlang shell, useful shell commands as well as Emacs and its Erlang mode are introduced.
  • Sequential Programming: The Sequential Programming section comprehends conditional evaluations, guards and scope of variables. It then introduces recursion, with a special emphasis on different recursivepatterns, tail recursion, and space saving optimizations. Before the exercises, libraries and their manual pages, possible run time errors and the debugger are demonstrated.
  • Concurrent Programming: This section describes the creation of processes and their life span. It looks at sending and receiving messages, selective reception, and passing data in the messages. It continues with the various uses of time outs and registering processes, and terminates by showing the generic process code structure. Before the exercises, a demonstration of the Process Manager tool is given.
  • Process Design Patterns: This section introduces the concept of process patterns, preparing the students for the OTP behaviours. It gives a detailed example of a client server system, looks at finite state machines and event handlers. Synchronous versus asynchronous message passing is discussed.
  • Process Error Handling: This section introduces the simple but powerful error handling mechanisms in processes. It looks at process links, exit signals and their propagation semantics. How robust systems are built in Erlang are discussed, and an example from the Process Design Patterns section is reimplemented, making it robust.
  • Records and Funs: Records and funs are used extensively within OTP and a refresher of the concepts and use is provided in this section.
  • Code Updating: The section introduces software upgrade during run time. The error handler, the code server, and code search paths are covered, as is the .erlang file.
  • ETS tables:  An introduction to the Erlang Term Storage is given, together with its different table options. Examples on when to use and not to use ETS tables are covered. A demonstration of the table visualizer is provided.
  • Distributed Programming: An introduction to the requirements of distributed systems is given, and how Erlang is able to fill these requirements. The distribution syntax and semantics are covered, followed by the BIFs and the net kernel.



Robert Virding is one of the co-inventors of Erlang and a founding member of the Ericsson Computer Science Lab. He developed the original system design, wrote the current compiler and contributed many of the original libraries. While at the lab, he also worked on the implementation of logic and functional languages and on garbage collection. With Joe Armstrong and Mike Williams, he co-authored Concurrent Programming in Erlang, the first Erlang book published by Prentice-Hall. He is also a co-founder of the first Erlang start-up, BlueTail, acquired by Nortel Networks in what was at the time the largest Swedish private company acquisition. Robert works as a principal language expert at Erlang Solutions, is active in research, and in this role regularly teaches and gives presentations at conferences worldwide.

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