The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

U.S. Deploys Missile Defense System

Installation goes forward despite latest test failure

6 min read

The rockets may not glare and bombs may not burst in the air—to rephrase part of the U.S. national anthem—but the Bush administration is forging ahead with construction of what it terms an "operational" missile defense system. The official objective was to have a rudimentary system up and running by last December, but after a key interceptor test rocket failed to fire from the Marshall Islands on 14 December, the Pentagon's Northern Command said the system would not become operational until early this year [see photo, " Rollout"].

Two years ago, President George W. Bush ordered the activation by the end of 2004 of a system capable of defending the United States against a missile attack by a terrorist group or an unfriendly rogue state such as North Korea. Evidently, the administration's thinking now is that it's better to get on with the job—even if the system looks less than ready—than it is to be seen doing nothing.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

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.

Keep Reading ↓Show less