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When to use functional programming languages and techniques

By  in Software Engineer, May 21, 2013, 11:00 AM //  Claudiotrope

If a project requires lots of concurrency/parallelism, its own language, or lots of math, you should think functional programming.

As IT professionals, we have to balance proficiently executing on current projects with proven technologies and learning to implement new ways of doing things. Software development arguably changes more rapidly than any other aspect of IT, making it an even tougher challenge.

Given the limited amount of time, it’s often difficult to decide what new techniques to learn. The questions of if and where to use functional programming languages/techniques strikes me as one of the tougher calls to make these days.

If and where to use functional programming

First, let’s define our terms. A functional language or technique is one in which the sole or dominant form of expressing algorithms is the evaluation of mathematical functions, avoiding state changes and mutable data. This is as against declarative, imperative, and procedural languages/techniques, which emphasize changes in state.

There is a strong case to be made that either functional languages or the other kinds can be object-oriented. LISP, considered by many an archetypal functional language, is a prime example. In other words, you can use either kind of language to implement object-oriented principals (and some would argue, more “purely” in functional languages). Similarly, you can write bad code in any language.

So, what kinds of problems are functional languages (if used well) superior at solving? …READ MORE ON


Get Started: Watch Video on Functional Programming From First Principles – By Erik Meijer (65,000 Views) 

Posted: Sep 06, 2012 at 8:30 AM
By: Charles – Avg Rating: 5 Stars

Intro by Charles  on Source Channel 9 Blog

Our favorite iconoclast, Erik Meijer, presented a very interesting talk at a recent GOTO Chicago event, Functional Programming Night. He originally planned on doing his popular “Fundamentalist Functional Programming” talk, but instead decided to address FP from a slightly different angle – “Functional Programming from First Principles”. (Speaking of FP first principles, if you haven’t seen Erik’s FP lecture series, well, you really should!).

Has Erik changed his mind about rampant side effects and imperative programming? What’s going to happen to the poor monkey Rich Hickey made reference to several times in his excellent talk The Database as a Value (which he presented after Erik’s talk)? Is Erik still a functional programming fundamentalist? Watch and decide. As you’d expect, it’s high energy, brilliant Erik all the way.

Get Erik’s slides.

Tune in. Enjoy.

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