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While archrival Microsoft hemorrhages cash and employees, Google is mapping out its plan for benevolent world domination. The company is flush, with US $16 billion in cash at press time, and its investment in new and existing projects constitutes a miniature economic-stimulus package unto itself. In November it was the Google Android cellphone. Last month it was the new interactive maps Google Earth Ocean and Google Mars, as well as Google Latitude, which allows subscribers to locate each other anytime, anywhere. And then there’s the new Chrome Web browser. Clearly, Google’s investment in R&D—$2.1 billion in 2007, according to IEEE Spectrum’s latest R&D 100 survey [PDF]--is bearing some luscious, and potentially lucrative, fruit.

But not every idea coming out of Google is a home run. Sometimes it’s a punch line to a joke waiting to happen. Witness the company’s recent investment in Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity University. The amount of money is insignificant by Google’s standards—at a minimum of $250 000 (the Corporate Founder level), it’s less than a thousandth of one percent of cash on hand. The effect on the company’s good name might prove to be less trivial.

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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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