Calculating Fields

A start-up firm makes waves with electromagnetic modeling software

3 min read

A fresh approach has come to computer modeling of electromagnetic waves, thanks to EM Photonics, a start-up company based in Newark, Del. The field is currently dominated by three-dimensional modeling programs such as XFDTD by Remcom, State College, Pa., but EM Photonics's innovative two-dimensional approach could win it a seat at the table. (Disclaimer: the founder of EM Photonics, Mark S. Mirotznik, is a former Ph.D. student of mine.)

EM Photonics's first product is EMPLab, intended for modeling electromagnetic waves as they propagate through space and interact with materials, which runs as an interface to Matlab Version 6.0 or later. EMPLab uses the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method instead of the finite-element method used in other field-modeling software, such as Femlab by Comsol Inc., Burlington, Mass. [see IEEE Spectrum, July, Software]. FDTD, an efficient but memory-intensive method for solving Maxwell's equations, is particularly well suited for dealing with problems in infinite space, such as those involving cellphone antennas, while Femlab is better suited for problems in confined spaces, such as those involving waveguides.

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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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