The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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A little over two years ago, Mary Lou Jepsen flew to Boston to interview for a professorship at MIT Media Lab. A week later, she got a job in Cambridge—not the professorship, but something even better: chief technology officer of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project, which is working on an ultracheap but versatile laptop for children in developing countries.

If you’re an engineer and a job interview turns into a brainstorming session, that’s probably a good sign. It certainly was for Jepsen, who spent 2 hours of her ”interview” kicking around ideas for the laptop with Nicholas Negroponte, the Media Lab’s cofounder. Negroponte had just launched OLPC, a nonprofit organization independent of MIT, and when he asked Jepsen to be its chief technology officer, she immediately agreed. Little did Jepsen, then a Californian, realize she had just signed up for a seemingly permanent seat on a globe-hopping flight.

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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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