Joe Armstrong (programmer)

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Joe Armstrong
Born (1950-12-27) 27 December 1950 (age 67)
Alma materRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden
OccupationComputer programmer, author
EmployerRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden
Known forCreating the Erlang programming language

Joseph "Joe" Leslie Armstrong (27 December 1950 in Bournemouth, England) is a computer scientist working in the area of fault-tolerant distributed systems. He is best known as the author of the Erlang programming language.


Armstrong was born in Bournemouth in 1950.[1]

At 17, Armstrong began programming Fortran on his school district's mainframe. 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. While working for the Ericsson Computer Science Lab, he helped developing 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 has been a professor at KTH since 2014.

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.[4]

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.



  1. ^ 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. ^ Seibel, Peter (2009). "Joe Armstrong". Coders at work. Retrieved 23 December 2017.

External links[edit]