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What's the Future of Programming? The Answer Lies in Functional Languages


Simon Peyton Jones.

Microsoft principal researcher Simon Peyton Jones suggests if you want to see which features will be in mainstream programming languages in the future, you should look at today's functional programming languages.

Credit: The Royal Society

If you want to see which features will be in mainstream programming languages tomorrow, then take a look at functional programming languages today.

So says Simon Peyton Jones, principal researcher at Microsoft and key contributor to Haskell, a longstanding and consistently popular purely functional programming language.

Functional programming differs from what many people think of as programming, stripping away the complexity of tracking the global state of a program in favor of the simplicity of focusing on feeding values into functions and collecting what they spit out.

"The way most programming languages are built, they're called imperative programming languages, they say 'Do this and then do that'," said Peyton Jones.

"A functional programming programming language doesn't say that, it says 'The result is this'. Think of a formula in an Excel spreadsheet, it doesn't have a sequence of steps, it just says the value of this cell is something."

 

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