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PWL-BSB #13: Why Functional Programming Matters

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Why Functional Programming Matters


Hughes J. Why functional programming matters. The computer journal. 1989 Jan 1;32(2):98-107.



As software becomes more and more complex, it is more and more important to structure it well. Well-structured software is easy to write and to debug, and provides a collection of modules that can be reused to reduce future programming costs. In this paper we show that two features of functional languages in particular, higher-order functions and lazy evaluation, can contribute significantly to modularity. As examples, we manipulate lists and trees, program several numerical algorithms, and implement the alpha-beta heuristic (an algorithm from Artificial Intelligence used in game-playing programs). We conclude that since modularity is the key to successful programming, functional programming offers important advantages for software development.