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Why are Actors Terrible?

Jaksa Vuckovic
Principal Consultant at Zuhlke Engineering
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Voxxed Days Belgrade 2016
September 28 2016, Belgrade, Serbia
Voxxed Days Belgrade 2016
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Topic: IT

As distributed systems are becoming the norm, more demand rises for tools and methods for reliably building such systems. However, there is no silver bullet and just adopting a tool, technology or model does not make it easy to build reliable distributed systems. The actor based model existed since the 70s, but its popularity rose just in the last decade thanks to Erlang and Akka. As the actor model is adopted by more developers so are the misconceptions related to it. These misconceptions arise from marketing material and a general lack of understanding of distributed systems theory.

In this presentation we will analyse and debunk some myths that are typically attributed to the actor model such as:

1. ease of development

2. lack of deadlocks

3. the readability of the code

4. the implicit fault tolerance

5. high parallelisation

This presentation does not present a fair view on the actor model and relies on a complementary workshop 'Why are actors great' to mitigate that. Attendees will better understand when and why to use the actor model and the associated costs and benefits. The 'how' part of using the actor model will be presented in the 'Why are Actors Great' workshop.

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