Philosophical aside #2: Generating and storing simulation data.

In a procedural language, we would tend to separate, at least in mind, the process of generating the events from the process of storing data about these events. For example, a piece of procedural pseudocode might read

for LOOP = 1 to 1000 do

Here, within each time-step of the process, separate procedures generate and store the events in the simulation. In the functional programming approach, this distinction disappears. Rather than loop through a procedure, storing the results one-by-one into a data structure, in the functional paradigm we simply generate the list of events, and subsequently extract the statistical information of interest.  In pseudocode,


Of course, the example above is almost laughably simple; among other things, subsequent events are not influenced by previous events. We will see, however, that a similar approach be taken for far more complicated processes; therein lies the power of the functional approach.

Converted by Mathematica      November 5, 1999