Debugging Memory Issues in Elixir: Navigating the BEAM Memory Model

Anton Frolov


Elixir operates on the BEAM Virtual Machine, which boasts a distinctive memory model designed to alleviate common memory-related pitfalls. However, when memory issues arise within an application, debugging becomes complex without a deep comprehension of the BEAM memory model.

Rather than delving into intricate BEAM memory management implementations, the focus is on the pragmatic side of memory issue resolution. We’ll explore scenarios where BEAM makes full copies of data versus optimizing it, uncovering the unexpected effects that can ensue.

A foundational understanding of application memory management principles (e.g., allocation, deallocation, and garbage collection) is recommended to derive the utmost benefit from this session. If you lack direct experience working with application memory or solving memory issues, fear not; real-life examples will elucidate the main concepts, and I will guide you through the tools employed to identify and debug such challenges.

Key takeaways:

  • Elixir and Phoenix empower developers with robust tools for building resilient and scalable applications. While Elixir developers seldom encounter memory-related challenges like out-of-memory (OOM) issues or memory leaks, understanding how to address them when they do occur is crucial.


  • Elixir developers of various levels, mostly benefiting developers with less total experience in software development, especially in work related to memory management.

Level: Introductory and overview

Tags: Elixir, BEAM, memory

Format: In-person