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A Global Search Engine For Geospatial Data

Scientists inch toward a standardized, universal system

3 min read

If you're a scientist or engineer cobbling together a geospatial project--say you're trying to figure out how many people would be threatened by a tsunami in the Indian Ocean--a truism holds that you spend 80 percent of the time hunting down usable data. The data, when they exist at all, often are archived in incompatible formats, have varying degrees of accuracy and precision, and sometimes require a good deal of political savvy to find.

Yuri Gorokhovich is an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Purchase who has been investigating tsunami damage in Southeast Asia. Getting what he needed meant negotiating with the Indonesian government, agreeing to pay US $4500 for the required data, and identifying the one and only person who could authorize the transfer. Even then, in order to develop a model identifying how many people lived in the areas directly hit by the December 2004 tsunami, Gorokhovich had to secretly get classified government data smuggled over by foreign colleagues.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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