Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why Functional Programming Matters

One can appreciate the importance of glue by an analogy with carpentry. A chair can be made quite easily by making the parts - seat, legs, back etc. - and sticking them together in the right way. But this depends on an ability to make joints and wood glue. Lacking that ability, the only way to make a chair is to carve it in one piece out of a solid block of wood, a much harder task. This example demonstrates both the enormous power of modularisation and the importance of having the right glue.

Now let us return to functional programming. We shall argue in the remainder of this paper that functional languages provide two new, very important kinds of glue.

(After that, check out this much more populist and recent approach to the same topic.)

1 comment:

  1. People should also check out "The Nature of Lisp" by the same guy who wrote the "populist" article you link to. It's a great article, because it shows that the way XML is being used today is just recapitulating Lisp, but in a more verbose and less powerful way. Through this, he takes the fear out of Lisp's so-called "weirdness", because "you're soaking in it" right now. He says, "If you're doing Y in XML, you can do the same exact thing in Lisp, and it doesn't look much different." For once someone has found a way to teach Lisp in a way people can understand! Wonderful!


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