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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Microsoft Puts the 'F' in Functional

Microsoft is targeting functional programming as a next big thing in
software development. F# -- pronounced "F sharp" -- is a functional
programming language out of Microsoft Research that the company will
productize to target developers dealing with concurrency and those in
the financial, scientific and technical, and academic arenas. At the
Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications 2007
conference in October, some of Microsoft's leading language gurus,
including Jim Hugunin, Anders Hejlsberg and Erik Meijer, spoke of
coming to Montreal via Cambridge, England, where they had stopped in
on Don Syme, Microsoft's researcher heading up the F# project. Microsoft
had just announced plans to transition the technology from research to
product form under Visual Studio. Earlier in the conference, Hejlsberg,
a core creator of C#, said he has seen a resurgence of functional
programming and its influences. Functional programming treats
computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids
state and mutable data. Functional languages include APL, Erlang,
Haskell, Lisp, ML, Oz and Scheme. Microsoft's Meijer is one of the
creators of Haskell. S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president
of Microsoft's Developer Division: "Language features such as lambda
expressions in C# and generics in .Net 2.0 have roots in functional
languages, and LINQ (Language Integrated Query) is directly based on
functional programming techniques. Many ideas from functional
languages are helping us address some of the biggest challenges facing
the industry today, from the impedance mismatch between data and
objects to the challenges of the multi-core and parallel computing
space... Microsoft will fully integrate the F# language into Visual
Studio and continue innovating and evolving F#. In my mind, F# is
another first-class programming language on the CLR (Common Language
Runtime)." More Information

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