Panel Discussion
Keynote: From WhatsApp to Outer Space

Mike Williams
Co-inventor of Erlang

The panel discussion will feature Guido van Rossum, Mike Williams, Jose Valim and John Hughes and will be moderated by Bruce Tate. We'll start by asking each inventor about their approach when creating their languages:

  • What problem did the language they invented solve?
  • What decisions made the biggest impact on that solution?
  • What are the consequences of those decisions?

This opening will lead to a Q&A discussion on what the language inventors got right and what they would do differently today if given the chance to start again. Don't miss this opportunity to learn directly from language creators!


This will be a joint keynote, given by Mike Williams, Joe Armstrong and Robert Virding

The Internet and Web are the world's largest distributed concurrent system, the problem domain and challenge Erlang was designed to to address. This is what the developers of many successful money-making systems using Erlang have understood and exploited. 

As systems are getting more complex, how do you get better tools and build sustainable teams? We have been running development projects using Erlang for many years and can tell you how to recruit and train Erlang programmers and how to start up projects. Maybe also a bit about what not to do! It's easier than you think.

But a new set of challenges are about to come our way. We're getting massive multi-cores, massive memories, energy aware *everything*, wireless, solar, always connected - the entire industry is changing *again*. Is the Erlang echo-system ready? As the domain space keeps on changing, what must we be aware of, what can we keep, and what must we change? We’ll be giving you our answers, after which we will throw the microphone in the audience so can put yours forward.


Mike is originally from South Wales, but has in fact lived in Sweden longer than he has anywhere else. He now lives in Pembrokeshire in West Wales.

Way back in the 1960's after working as a Atheistic Missionary in Malawi, Mike went to University in Cambridge where he learnt a lot about drinking beer and rather less about "Mechanical Sciences". He then moved to Sweden in 1970 (guess why :-) and joined Ericsson as a hardware designer. The price of beer in Sweden being horrendously expensive enabled Mike to concentrate on other things, He joined Bjarne Dacker and a few others to found the Ericsson Computer Science Laboratory 1980. One of the things they did in the Computer Science lab was to "invent" Erlang. Mike's role was to develop the first Erlang virtual machine (Joe developed the compiler and machine architecture, Robert made his own Erlang VM and wrote the first libraries). He worked out the primitives for fault handling and dynamic code replacement.

In 1990 Mike glided into management by a complete accident, and found he rather liked it. He has been in charge of both large and small units which develop software in Ericsson. In 2012 Mike retired from Ericsson and joined the Board of Directors at Erlang Solutions.

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