XML co-inventor Tim Bray says that functional programming, rather than threads, is the best option for programmers developing code for multicore processors.
Programming for multicore chips requires developers to deal with concurrency, which presents its own issues, Bray says. "It involves a lot of problems that are very difficult to think about and reason about and understand," he says.
However, functional programming, made possible with languages such as Erlang and Clojure, offers a way to handle concurrency. Erlang was originally designed for programming massive telephone switches with thousands of processors. Bray says that although it has no classes, objects, or variables, it is "bulletproof and reasonably high-performance." Clojure is a Lisp, runs on the Java Virtual Machine, and compiles to straight Java bytecode, which makes it very fast, Bray notes. "This is a super, super high-performance language," he says.
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