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Higher math

The latest upgrade of the venerable Mathematica software package adds clever goodies

2 min read

First released in 1988, Mathematica has grown into a technical computing platform of enormous scope and capability. It has more than 1000 symbolic and numerical math functions, superb graphics capabilities, extensive editing capabilities for technical documents, and an array of other handy bells and whistles. It has spawned hundreds of books, ranging from how-to manuals to research monographs. Nearly a thousand scientific and engineering papers cite the program.

Mathematica continues to grow and improve with age. I found version 5.1 to be a significant upgrade. Dozens of new features will probably appeal to novice users and technical gurus alike. Beginners are likely to appreciate the new ability to import worksheets created in Microsoft Excel, a business-oriented program that, while easy to use, has few mathematics and graphics functions. EquationTrekker is an elegant new feature that allows users to explore the behavior of solutions of differential equations; I plan to use it in my lectures next semester.

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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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