Elixir Q & A


How does Elixir handle concurrency?

Elixir excels in handling concurrency through its innovative approach inspired by the Actor model. Concurrency in Elixir is achieved by creating lightweight, isolated processes that run concurrently and communicate through message passing. Here’s how Elixir handles concurrency effectively:


  1. Processes, not Threads: In Elixir, processes are not traditional operating system threads but lightweight user-level processes. These processes are isolated from each other, each with its own memory space, making it safer and more efficient than typical thread-based concurrency models.


  1. Asynchronous Message Passing: Communication between Elixir processes occurs through asynchronous message passing. Processes can send messages to each other, and the receiving process can pattern match on these messages to determine how to handle them. This approach ensures loose coupling between processes and avoids shared memory, reducing the risk of data races.


  1. Isolation: Elixir processes are isolated, meaning that a failure in one process doesn’t affect others. This isolation makes it easier to reason about concurrency and build fault-tolerant systems. In case of a process failure, Elixir’s supervisor processes can restart or recover the failed process automatically, ensuring system stability.


  1. Concurrency at Scale: Elixir’s lightweight processes and the underlying Erlang virtual machine (BEAM) are designed to handle a massive number of concurrent processes efficiently. This scalability is crucial for applications that need to support a large number of users or devices concurrently, such as real-time web applications and IoT platforms.


  1. Immutable Data: Elixir encourages immutability, which means that data cannot be modified once created. When processes need to share data, they do so by sending copies of the data, ensuring that no process can inadvertently modify shared state, which is a common source of concurrency bugs.


Elixir’s approach to concurrency, built on lightweight processes, asynchronous message passing, isolation, and immutability, enables developers to build highly concurrent and fault-tolerant applications with ease. This makes Elixir an excellent choice for domains where concurrency is a fundamental requirement, such as real-time web applications and distributed systems.

Previously at
Flag Argentina
time icon
Tech Lead in Elixir with 3 years' experience. Passionate about Elixir/Phoenix and React Native. Full Stack Engineer, Event Organizer, Systems Analyst, Mobile Developer.