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F# Not just for finance

F# the most highly paid tech worldwide in 2016, but it’s not just for finance.

F# Not just for finance
In the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, F# came out as the top paying tech. (‘Among 41, 117 developers in top 30 countries by respondent count. Percents shown are developer salaries as a percent of the average developer salary in a respondent’s country.’)

The results of the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey are in! F# came out as the single most highly paid tech worldwide and is amongst the third top paying techs in the US.

Not just for finance: the advantages of F# in mainstream commercial business

F#’s correlation with top salaries isn’t surprising given its frequent use in finance. F#’s functional approach makes it easy and natural to express numerical computation, and its strong type system can provide guarantees that ensure correctness, a really important property when dealing with financial transactions.  Some examples of companies using F# in finance include Credit Suisse, Handelsbanken, Cepheis, Eurostocks.com, Trafigura Limited, and the anti-money laundering specialists Bayard Rock.

F# Not just for finance
Tomas Petricek has an excellent online course in FSharp programming in finance through Quants Hub Programming School.

While F# is particularly adept in risk analysis and quantitative modelling, the idea that F# is a niche language is far from true. You might be surprised by some of the companies currently using FSharp in production. These include Liz Earle Beauty Co. Ltd. who use it in their in-house IT and production systems, and Amyris Biotechnology who use it for DNA processing and genome re-sequencing.

“F# rocks – we’re building out various algorithms for DNA processing here and it’s like a drug. Just implemented a suffix tree in 150 lines that can index 200,000 bases a second 😉 We have probably 10-20K lines of code for many scientific applications ranging from a full genome sequencing pipeline that reconstructs and annotated yeast strains, to simulators for various processes and design tools for building DNA sequences/constructs.”

–  Darren Platt, Amyris Biotechnology

F# Not just for finance
Amyris Biotechnology has been using F# to process DNA samples. Now there’s some simple yet expressive code. Image source: NHS genomics education .

F# also has practical application in the fields of architecture and mechanical engineering. Waagner-Biro, the engineering firm behind such architectural feats as the Reichstag in Berlin, the Great Court at the British Museum in London, and the entrance pavilions of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, recently used F# in one of their large-scale projects: the construction of the domed roof of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.

“The sheer scale and complexity of the cladding on the dome required us to re-evaluate our parametric design approach. I developed an F# application to represent and organise all cladding elements of the dome….The switch to F# from dynamic scripting languages helped to reduce development time and execution time. The strongly typed environment, algebraic data types and immutable data helped to avoid a whole range of bugs and fits well the domain of generating static 3d geometry. I see great potential for F# to be used as scripting languages in CAD, especially since most big CAD packages already offer a .NET API.” – Goswin Rothenthal, Design Engineer at Waagner Biro 

F# Not just for finance
From code to colossal: Waagner-Biro recently used F# to construct the dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum which is scheduled for completion in late 2016. Not bad for a language that uses so few lines of code. (Image: Architect Jean Nouvel. )

Some additional examples of companies outside of finance who are using F# include Kaggle, Grange Insurance, Gamesys, 15below, Digium, Sync Today, Reminder Hero, Green Eagle Solutions, Readify, and of course, Microsoft.

The future of functional programming

F# Not just for finance
Of the 56,000 coders in 173 countries that responded to the 2016 Stack Overflow Survey, 71% reported that they develop in F# or else are interested in continuing to develop with F#.

It’s taken over ten years (F# version 1.0 was released in 2005 and the current version, 4.0., was released earlier this year), but it seems that a wide range of businesses and industries have finally begun to appreciate the added value and simplicity of functional programming.

According to the results of the survey, F# is now the third most loved programming language amongst developers. It beat out Scala, Go, Clojure, React, Haskell, Python, C#, and Node.js

Is F# finally gaining traction as mainstream language? Can it make you more productive in certain areas? Can functional programming help you be a better developer?

Share your experiences and let us know what you think.

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