Joe Armstrong (programmer)

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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 materRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationComputer programmer, author
Known forCreating the Erlang programming language

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]

At 17, Armstrong began programming Fortran on his local council's mainframe.[1] This experience helped him during his physics studies at University College London, where he debugged the programs of his fellow students in exchange for beer[citation needed]. While working for the Ericsson Computer Science Lab, he helped develop Erlang in 1986.


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


He died on 20 April 2019 from an infection which was complicated by pulmonary fibrosis.[4][5][6][7]

Personal life[edit]


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.[8]

While working at Ericsson in 1986, Joe Armstrong was one of the designers and implementers of Erlang.


Along with Robert Virding and Mike Williams in 1986, Armstrong developed Erlang, which was released as open source in 1998.



  • 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. ^ "Joe Armstrong: Father of Erlang". Erlang User Conference. Erlang Solutions Ltd. 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Francesco Cesarini on Twitter". Twitter. 20 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  5. ^ Wager, Kristjan (20 April 2019). "RIP Joe Armstong, the author of Erlang". Free Thought Blogs. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Helen Taylor on Twitter". Twitter. 21 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  8. ^ Seibel, Peter (2009). "Joe Armstrong". Coders at work. Retrieved 23 December 2017.

External links[edit]