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Re: Functional programming?

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg92121] Re: Functional programming?
  • From: Szabolcs Horvát <szhorvat at gmail.com>
  • Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2008 05:01:38 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: University of Bergen
  • References: <gag2ra$3f9$1@smc.vnet.net>

AES wrote:
> I suggest it might be instructive if some of the functional programming 
> proponents on this group could provide us DO-looping old timers with a 
> brief summary or tutorial as to what is really meant by, or involved in, 
> "functional programming"? 
> 

It shouldn't matter what "functional programming" means (many posters 
misuse the term anyway).  When a programming question is asked on 
MathGroup, often many completely different solutions are posted. Anyone 
(especially someone who has used Mathematica extensively since version 
1.0, like AES) should be able to compare these solutions and form one's 
own judgement:  which is more concise? more readable? easier to come up 
with? faster? less memory-hungry?

A philosophical debate about the merits of using something called 
"functional style" in Mathematica does not lead anywhere.

Different problems require different approaches, and those who use the 
system for some time will develop a practical understanding of what 
approach is suitable what problem.  Reading MathGroup and taking a look 
at other people's code does help.

If even after several years of experience with Mathematica you can get 
results more quickly and easily by programming with loops, then just use 
loops!  The fact that many of us do not find this style very effective 
in Mathematica (and perhaps offer alternatives to new users sometimes) 
does not mean that we want to "convert" other old users ...


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