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Crashproof Code

Flying an experimental supersonic aircraft requires rock-solid flight software

12 min read

Most people can tolerate the occasional computer crashes that plague modern life. Not so the pilot of a jet fighter streaking through the sky at a notch above the speed of sound. A single software glitch could send the aircraft spiraling out of control, possibly killing the pilot. It's our job to make sure that doesn't happen.

Writing and testing software for the onboard computers that translate a jet pilot's commands into actions is hard enough at the best of times, but when an experimental technique for controlling a supersonic aircraft is thrown into the mix, the job gets really tough--and interesting. That's the task faced by our teams at Boeing Co. and NASA as a modified F/A-18 strike fighter tests out a new way of using its wings.

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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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