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Game of Kings

A specialist in other people's obsessions writes about one of his own--chess

2 min read

The world of chess is filled with colorful and obstinate men and women who have dedicated much of their lives to a pursuit few outsiders can appreciate. Paul Hoffman has a predilection both for the game and for dedication itself, having described an outstanding case of it in his biography of the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers (Hyperion, 1998). Now he brings these interests together in a wide-ranging tour: King's Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game.

Hoffman writes in an enjoyable, fast-­moving style, focusing on storytelling, with brief excursions into more serious philosophical topics, all designed to lead the reader seamlessly from episode to episode. The author's credentials as a tournament player and acquaintance of several of the world's strongest players are impeccable, and his preparation is impressive. He spent years collecting material for first-hand accounts of top events, including a World's Championship in Libya, a prestigious international tournament in Moscow, and a women's training session in New York City. He quotes a wide range of players, from former world champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov on down. These sections bring the world of chess and its many characters to life. They are the highlights of the book.

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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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