Updated March 6, 2023
Difference Between Haskell and Erlang
Haskell is a standard functional programming language, which is modular and general-purpose in nature. This language got its name after Haskell Brooks Curry, a mathematician and logician. Haskell revolves around the concept of functions, a block of code aiming to perform specific tasks. Functions are being called only when required. Functions are also treated as values, i.e. two functions can be added just like normal integers. This makes Haskell a purely functional programming language. Two important aspects of Haskell is its non-strict semantics and strong static typing. With Haskell, strong data typing is merged with a polymorphism concept, which means a developer can write a single function that would sort integers as well as strings. Unlike other languages, the developer must write down two separate functions for two different data types.
Like Haskell, Erlang also falls into a functional programming language, which is concurrent and general-purpose in nature. Just like any other functional language, it focuses on expression evaluation, rather than command execution, where expressions utilize functions to deduce basic values. Although functional, it is like Java because it utilizes a virtual machine and has support for multithreading. Java community chiefly focuses on the Web development ecosystem, whereas Erlang has its stronghold on an embedded system and robust servers. Indeed, Erlang is designed for the development of robust system programs working on distributed computers in a network. Erlang is freely available as open-source code and being taught worldwide in universities.
Haskell got its first stable release in July 2010. It promotes a type system with an interesting aspect called “lazy-evaluation”, with which one function’s result can be handed over to another function, a function taking another function as an argument or return it, as a result, are qualified as higher-order functions. Another interesting feature is termed as monads, an assembly line like structure; a different task is performed at every stop on the line. Because of this feature, any side effect can be categorized as a separate activity excluding any function.
Erlang draws its similarity with Java; for providing garbage collection, developers need not worry about allocated memory space return issues. System components can be efficiently developed with the dynamic type feature of Erlang; these components need not care about the data type they are going to deal with. An Erlang program can be distributed quite easily and can be made to run at any node in a network, making Erlang quite efficient for building system components. Erlang language also provides interfaces for Java, C, C++; hence it can be implemented with ease. Being a concurrent one, its thread supervision comes in useful for state machines and event distribution. On every platform, Erlang’s bytecode can be identified. It can prove to be a better option for any concurrent activity, fault tolerance, real-time response, and features required to maintain a healthy back-end system. For a network system with an HTTP server, a protocol like SNMP includes all components, thus making Erlang a preferred choice for a network and distributed system. Its actor-based model makes it is precisely good enough for the distributed system.
Head To Head Comparisons Between Haskell and Erlang (Infographics)
Below is the top 6 difference between Haskell vs Erlang
Key Differences between Haskell and Erlang
Both are popular choices in the market; let us discuss some of the major difference:
- Haskell is a strongly statically typed functional programming language, whereas Erlang is a dynamically typed functional programming language.
- Haskell has a more abstract concept with association toward academic and mathematics, whereas Erlang is more pragmatic in nature and can be preferred to use on a production system.
- Haskell is a traditional and general-purpose language, with its pure functional aspect, whereas Erlang is more suited for the distributed environment, does prominently in developing distributed applications, having a feature like a fault tolerance.
- Haskell is a purely functional programming language and does not gel with the rest of the paradigms, whereas Erlang is a hybrid and dynamically type functional language based on the bytecode concept.
- Haskell is traditional and academic in nature, not pragmatic in nature, whereas Erlang has dedicated support for designing a distributed system with its roots in the telecom industry.
- Haskell has more concise syntax, better suited for traditional programming competitions, whereas Erlang is successful, but its syntax is not easy to get on with.
- Haskell does not have brilliance when it comes to concurrency, whereas Erlang is suitable for the concurrency-based system.
- Although elegant and academic, Haskell is not so popular in a production system, whereas Erlang, with its pragmatic approach, is popular in a production system.
- Haskell, being a traditional programming language, is designed to run on a single node, whereas Erlang having its wonderful concurrency support, can run efficiently on a distributed system with multiple nodes.
- Haskell with lambdas and recursive definitions can abstract and formalize the semantics efficiently whereas Erlang, is mediocre outside its niche, i.e. distributed system, not at the same level of expressiveness as Haskell.
Haskell vs Erlang Comparison Table
Here are some of the Comparison between Haskell vs Erlang –
|Strongly statically typed functional programming
|Dynamically typed functional programming
|Traditional & general purpose in nature
|Distributed based on a run-time actor system model
|Awesome ability to abstract invariants and semantics
|It does average outside its niche, i.e. distributed system
|Perform mediocrely, rediscover from the scratch
|Awesome support for a distributed system
|Academic, mathematic oriented
|Practical and pragmatic
|A steep learning curve, with an abstract mathematics concept
|Easy to get into albeit seems strange at first glance
Erlang vs Haskell both has its own set of merits and demerits. Haskell is a more traditional, purely functional programming language, falls into an academic-zone, having more abstract concepts. Its syntax is concise, but at the same time, its learning curve can be steep. It has several features like lambdas, recursive definitions, which can help abstract and formalize the semantics efficiently. However, for a production like a system, Haskell is the less preferred choice as compared to Erlang. Erlang has amazing support for features like fault tolerance and concurrency. These two features need to be handled efficiently for a successful distributed system. Erlang thus fares far better in designing the distribution system based on the actor model.
Both Erlang vs Haskell have their own specific use-cases. In their specific zones, they perform efficiently. When it comes to developing a traditional system having a single node, Haskell will win over with its abstract and concise syntax like features. Erlang, on the other hand, is a perfect fit for developing a distributed system having multiple nodes since its support for concurrency, network-based components, and fault tolerance meet all the requirement. At the end of the day, it’s the scenario and use-case that would decide language usage.
This has been a guide to the top difference between Haskell vs Erlang. Here we also discuss the key differences with infographics and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –