U.S. Defense Dollars For Computer Science Plunge

Will industry make up the difference?

6 min read

David Patterson had a great idea. Two years ago, the eminent computer scientist, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was looking at recent advances in statistical machine learning, an area within artificial intelligence involving how computers can learn automatically. It occurred to him that the technology had enormous potential to make distributed computer systems, military as well as commercial, more stable and robust. So he contacted the logical source to fund such an idea: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense organization known for backing long-range, blue-sky research.

To his surprise, he was refused. "They didn't even respond for many months, and then it was just a perfunctory rejection," recalls Patterson, an IEEE Fellow and president of the Association for Computing Machinery, in New York City. He next tried the National Science Foundation, in Arlington, Va., but was again turned down. Talking to his Berkeley colleagues, who'd also had grant proposals declined, Patterson says, "We came to the conclusion that the style of high-risk, high-impact research we've been doing, involving 3 to 6 faculty and maybe 20 to 30 graduate students, was going to be a problem."

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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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