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I read a really, really interesting article on memory management strategies for the Erlang VM. It was written as a thesis by Jesper Wilhelmsson I thought it might be nice to discuss the differences between Erlang's memory setup and Oracle's Java VM.

As a real short introduction for those who have never heard of Erlang; it is a functional language that uses asynchronous message passing as its basis for concurrency. The message passing uses copy semantics, making distribution over more than one Erlang VM, running on more than one machine essentially transparent to the programmer.

Erlang and Java are similar in the sense that both use a virtual machine to abstract the hardware into a portable layer. Both languages employ machine independent byte code. Both run-time systems rely on garbage collection to free the programmer of doing memory management.

Threading overhead in Erlang is very low. I believe that the memory requirements for a thread in Erlang is about 512 bytes. In Java threads typically need about 512 kilobytes, about 1000 times more. For a programmer, the upshot is that creating threads to do some work asynchronously is not something you have to sit down and think about. Typical Erlang systems have thousands or tens of thousands of threads. There is no futzing with threadpools and executors like we do in Java.



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