As computers become more powerful and the programs that run them grow more complex, programmers are increasingly trying to make their lives easier by turning to an idea that dates to the early days of computer languages, an approach called functional programming.
"Functional programming's on a long steady burn, starting 30 or 40 years ago," says Simon Peyton Jones, a researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., where he focuses on the functional language Haskell.
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