The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Technology gave its first big boost to productivity on the farm, its next, on the factory floor. Now comes the hard part: services, in which it is rarely obvious how to rationalize work. Our annual survey of corporate R&D spending, which you can read online at /dec06/research, puts the question concretely: How can we help a barber to cut more hair?

Barbers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, closet reorganizers, and their like fill 83 percent of all jobs in the United States, and nearly as many in Europe, so it matters that their productivity lags behind that of their brethren in industry and agriculture. Even engineers, with their calculators and CAD/CAM programs, do not always outwork professional forebears who had only slide rules and drawing tables.

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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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