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Introducing Erlang: Getting Started in Functional Programming [Paperback]

Simon St. Laurent
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

8 Feb 2013 1449331769 978-1449331764 1

If you’re new to Erlang, its functional style can seem difficult, but with help from this hands-on introduction, you’ll scale the learning curve and discover how enjoyable, powerful, and fun this language can be.

Author Simon St. Laurent shows you how to write simple Erlang programs by teaching you one basic skill at a time. You’ll learn about pattern matching, recursion, message passing, process-oriented programming, and establishing pathways for data rather than telling it where to go. By the end of your journey, you’ll understand why Erlang is ideal for concurrency and resilience.

  • Get cozy with Erlang’s shell, its command line interface
  • Become familiar with Erlang’s basic structures by working with numbers
  • Discover atoms, pattern matching, and guards: the foundations of your program structure
  • Delve into the heart of Erlang processing with recursion, strings, lists, and higher-order functions
  • Create processes, send messages among them, and apply pattern matching to incoming messages
  • Store and manipulate structured data with Erlang Term Storage and the Mnesia database
  • Learn about Open Telecom Platform, Erlang’s open source libraries and tools

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Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (8 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449331769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449331764
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 17.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Simon St. Laurent is a web developer, network administrator, computer book author, and XML troublemaker living in Ithaca, NY. His books include XML: A Primer, XML Elements of Style, Building XML Applications, Cookies, and Sharing Bandwidth. He is a contributing editor to and an occasional contributor to

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm doing an MSc in Data Science and one of the requirements was to learn Erlang. I read this and the Erlang Programming by Cesarini/Thompson. Sadly I did the other book first and got totally lost. This introduction however was a life saver and made concepts clear and give me enough to code. It was particularly helpful with the parallel processing element which seemed clearer in the intro than the programming book. At 184 pages it is short but just right to pick up Erlang. Managed to code to produce code beyond the basics within a week.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gentle Introduction To An Important Yet Difficult Language 21 Feb 2013
By Ira Laefsky - Published on
Erlang is an important programming language especially in light of its functional paradigm, excellent handling of concurrency, ability to deal with distributed and multi-core platforms, reliability and fault-tolerance. It is also a difficult language with an unconventional (Prolog-like) syntax, lack of object orientation, and importantly the nonexistence of variables. That is, it is an important and useful language in many modern contexts but it has for many people an incredibly steep learning curve. This book smooths and accelerates that learning curve. I have reviewed another excellent and fun Erlang book "Learn Some Erlang for Great Good" but that volume is close to 600 pages and goes into considerable detail on unusual binary types before showing how to define functions and modules. This 184 page primer is perfect for a programming novice and one who has learned a conventional modern object oriented language like Java or Python and needs to rapidly master Erlang's capabilities including functional programming and the handling of concurrency. All of the most important features of this unusual language are covered in a gentle fashion, including list comprehensions, recursion, the debugger and process monitor, the Open Telecom Platform and Mnesia databse without overwhelming the novice in unusual concepts and structures before s/he is ready.

I would highly recommend this short primer to anyone who must become familiar with Erlang's approach to many modern computing problems without being overwhelmed by detail or unusual syntax before they are prepared.

--Ira Laefsky, MS Engineering/MBA Information Technology Consultant and HCI Researcher
formerly on the Senior Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, but not quite self contained 5 Mar 2013
By M. Henri De Feraudy - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I already owned ERLANG Programming but was looking for a easier going introduction that might do a better job at presenting processes, and I'm generally curious to know how concepts are explained anyway so I downloaded this on my Kindle.
For the first few hours of reading I was very happy with this book. The author is really gifted at explaining without the pain.
So I suppose his other books must be very good and he would make very good coursework.
But then I came across terms he uses but does not define: node and template. These do have specific meanings in Erlang. The Kindle search feature makes it easy to see all the occurrences of these in the book. Sure enough they were not defined, in fact it looks like they are not defined anywhere in the book. Sure I can look them up elsewhere, but this is supposed to be an introduction: the kind of book you can take away with you on a weekend in a farmhouse. So I guess there needs to be a second edition or an update.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction if you're new to functional programming 17 May 2013
By G. BARTO - Published on
I started out looking at Learn You Some Erlang for Great Good!: A Beginner's Guide with an aim to finding out what the language was all about. But because it's a pretty comprehensive resource, I found it a bit much. Introducing Erlang, on the other hand, takes things very step by step. First you build a small program, then you build a slightly bigger program, then you tweak it to make it better or easier to read. Bit by bit, you start to get the hang of what you can do with the language.

As another review notes, the book works with pretty similar problems involving gravity calculations all the way through. This can wear a little bit thin, but at certain points it's really nice to be able to look at earlier programs attacking a similar program to see exactly what has changed and how.

If you're going to get this book, you will want to Google "Etudes for Erlang." It's a companion set of exercises available on the web that take you step by step through problems similar to those in the book in order to let you try your hand at writing your own code. And the examples there are more interesting than in this text.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Intro to Erlang 16 Mar 2013
By IADev - Published on
Simon St. Laurent takes the reader for a gentle look at the Erlang language. I would recommend this for a programmer that knows or has a good foundation in any programming language as this is not meant to be a learning the basics of programming book. In other words, one should know what a loop is and flow control concepts before reviewing this book. While I did not have much exposure to Lisp, I did not have any trouble picking up the syntax from the book itself. This book is really about a quick introduction and it is then your job to dig into the additional resources or websites that you need to in order to learn more. One of the first things that I did after finishing this work was go out to GitHub and look at real Erlang projects which the author had suggested. I was impressed that I had a great foundation for being able to understand what was going on just from reading this book. For example, I saw the .hrl includes and knew right away that records would be defined in those files. I was also able to see the OTP templates being applied in code as well. I left this book wanting more knowledge about Erlang and looking for other books that would expand this knowledge. I would say that this book is really for those who are trying to invest time in learning more about the language beyond just a 30 web tutorial; however, one that is still only interested in an introduction.

Overall conclusion: If you want a brief introduction to Erlang-this is the book for you. If you need a complete reference or many detailed examples or tutorials: you might want to check out the other Erlang books out there.
Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book for review as part of O'Reilly blogger program.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect first Erlang book! 28 Mar 2013
By Cyril - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well written book that, through a very pedagogical approach, teaching me how to start Erlang... step-by-step, with some simple examples. I recommend it.
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