Retaking the Field

An old computational favorite is overhauled

3 min read

Electrical engineers often need to model electromagnetic waves that propagate from antennas or through complex structures. In the days before computers, such problems could tax the mathematics capabilities of an Einstein. Today, however, the task can be simple and even fun to do on ordinary desktop computers, thanks to packages like Femlab 3 from Comsol Inc., Burlington, Maine.

Femlab 3 is a major update of a well-established product. Originally developed as an add-on application to Matlab, an efficient computational platform published by The MathWorks, in Natick, Mass., it takes full advantage of Matlab's sophisticated graphics capabilities and simple user interfaces. This release has a welcome new addition: a stand-alone program that has its own math engine and runs independently of Matlab, along with the version that runs as an add-on to Matlab Version 6.5 or higher. The stand-alone program is much faster than the older Matlab-based versions, which will be a compelling reason for many users to upgrade. It has a host of smaller enhancements as well.

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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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