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Hurricanes and tropical storms are back in the public mind, especially in North and Central America, where they did more than US $100 billion in damages last year. Some see the inescapable side effects of global warming, noting that 2005 was the worst year for Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history. Others see a financial opportunity: online gambling establishments have opened betting pools on this year’s storms—you can wager on how many hurricanes will hit the United States, how many will hit Florida, and even on what the storms’ Saffir-Simpson intensity categories will be.

While it sometimes feels like storm forecasting is one bad bet after another, hurricane forecasting, and weather forecasting in general, have actually improved enormously in the half century since John von Neumann and Jules Charney used 24 hours of ENIAC computing time to produce the first 24-hour numerical weather forecast. And according to our authors Robert Gall and David Parsons from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo. [” It’s Hurricane Season: Do You Know Where Your Storm Is?”], it’s going to get significantly better very soon.

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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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