Joe Armstrong (programmer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joe Armstrong
An erlang expert and some guy named Joe (4133214882).jpg
Armstrong in 2009
Born(1950-12-27)27 December 1950
Bournemouth, England, UK
Died20 April 2019(2019-04-20) (aged 68)
Alma materUniversity College London, UK; Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationComputer programmer, professor, author
Known forCreating the Erlang programming language
Spouse(s)Helen Taylor
ChildrenThomas Armstrong, Claire Armstrong

Joseph Leslie Armstrong (27 December 1950 – 20 April 2019) was a computer scientist working in the area of fault-tolerant distributed systems. He is best known as one of the co-designers of the Erlang programming language.

Early life and education[edit]

Armstrong was born in Bournemouth, England in 1950.[1][2]

At 17, Armstrong began programming in Fortran on his local council's mainframe.[1]

Armstrong graduated with a B.Sc. in Physics from University College London in 1972.[2]

He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden in 2003.[2][3] His dissertation was titled Making reliable distributed systems in the presence of software errors.[4] He was a professor at KTH from 2014 until his death.[2]


Armstrong moved to Sweden in 1974 and joined the Ericsson Computer Science Lab at Kista in 1984.[2]

Peter Seibel wrote:

Originally a physicist, he switched to computer science when he ran out of money in the middle of his physics PhD and landed a job as a researcher working for Donald Michie—one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence in Britain. At Michie's lab, Armstrong was exposed to the full range of AI goodies, becoming a founding member of the British Robotics Association and writing papers about robotic vision. When funding for AI dried up as a result of the famous Lighthill report, it was back to physics-related programming for more than half a decade, first at the EISCAT scientific association and later the Swedish Space Corporation, before finally joining the Ericsson Computer Science Lab, where he invented Erlang.[5]

It was at Ericsson in 1986, that he worked with Robert Virding and Mike Williams, to invent the Erlang programming language,[2] which was released as open source in 1998.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Armstrong married Helen Taylor in 1977, they have two children, Thomas and Claire.[2]


Armstrong died on 20 April 2019 from an infection which was complicated by pulmonary fibrosis.[7][8][9][10]


  • 2007. Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World. Pragmatic Bookshelf ISBN 978-1934356005.
  • 2013. Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World. Second edition. Pragmatic Bookshelf ISBN 978-1937785536.


  1. ^ a b Armstrong, Joe (29 April 2013). "Excerpts from Coders At Work: Joe Armstrong Interview". Living in an Ivory Basement (Interview). Interviewed by Seibel, Peter. Brown, C. Titus. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Däcker, Bjarne (8 May 2019). "Joe Armstrong obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  3. ^ "Joe Armstrong: Father of Erlang". Erlang User Conference. Erlang Solutions Ltd. 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  4. ^ Armstrong, Joe (December 2003). Making reliable distributed systems in the presence of software errors (PDF) (PhD). Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2004.
  5. ^ Seibel, Peter (2009). "Joe Armstrong". Coders at work. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Erlang/OTP Released as Open Source, 1998-12-08". Archived from the original on 9 October 1999.
  7. ^ "Francesco Cesarini on Twitter". Twitter. 20 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  8. ^ Wager, Kristjan (20 April 2019). "RIP Joe Armstong, the author of Erlang". Free Thought Blogs. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  9. ^ 作者: (21 April 2019). "Erlang之父Joe Armstrong去世". 新浪科技_新浪网 (in Chinese). Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Helen Taylor on Twitter". Twitter. 21 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.

External links[edit]