The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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There was a story in the New York Times last week that reported Mary Shapiro, chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as saying that the cause of the “flash crash” of the New York Stock Exchange in May has still not been determined.

According to the Times, the SEC is” exploring several theories,” which I interpret as meaning that they still don’t have a clue.

This is not surprising, if you read another story that appeared in USAToday about the rise of automatic trading in stock markets, where millions of trades occur in a matter of seconds.

The USAToday story, which is worth a read, describes the different ways electronic trading can be used to manipulate the market, and how regulators really don’t have the tools to stop it. Even the addition of so-called “circuit breakers” by exchange regulators to keep flash crashes from spinning out of control may instead have other negative consequences, according to this Forbes magazine blog post.

The story also talks about the benefits of electronic trading, especially allowing non-professional traders to gain low-cost access to the market, but also how traders – professional and casual alike – need to adjust their trading behaviors to electronic trading algorithms vice the other way around.

Noting an observation from Eric Hunsader, founder of market data feed provider Nanex, the USAToday story says:

Technology was supposed to even the field between professional traders and individuals. In reality, though, the rise of the machine on Wall Street shows individual investors are even more outgunned than before due to factors many will never see or perhaps understand.”

That apparently goes for the SEC and other market regulators as well.

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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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