Rising Functional Programming

The expected shift of computer processing to even greater degree of parallelism has sparked interested in new ways of developing software that will take full advantage of the horizontal increase in processing power. The key area that has received the bulk of attention is programming languages and tools. In a many-core world (as opposed to what is now called multi-core), shared state becomes very tricky so most of the mainstream programming languages would be difficult to use in producing software. While almost all the mainstream imperative languages do have a library to enable the development of code capable of parallelism, most of these methods are not baked into the language and sometimes the initial design of the language itself gets in the way. In the design of most of the mainstream imperative programming languages, immutable data type are rare or sometimes completely non-existent all together.

Increased interest in functional programming languages have given rise to new languages that serve as an adequate bridge between the existing imperative programming mindset and the much needed shift to a world of parallelism. Functional programming is certainly not new as many of the techniques have been implemented in languages like Scheme, Haskel, Erlang amongst others. However, these languages and the ideas that they implement have largely remained in academic circles until recently when the software industry has taken a more proactive role to transfer the knowledge of academia to the industry. Programming languages like F# and Scala borrow heavily from the aforementioned pioneers of functional programming.

The newest in this growing list of new programming languages is Google’s Noop. The following is a description of Noop from the project’s web site:

… new language experiment that attempts to blend the best lessons of languages old and new, while syntactically encouraging what we believe to be good coding practices and discouraging the worst offenses. Noop is initially targeted to run on the Java Virtual Machine.

The basic assumptions in the design and development of Noop are certainly interesting. Integrating testing into the programming language can greatly improve code quality and making the language truly object oriented will improve its readability. I have found functional programming languages to have a pleasantly concise syntax that effortlessly achieves what would have required a ton of boilerplate code in supposedly OO languages like Java or C# which include primitive data types.

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