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The Book of F# by Dave Fancher

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Chapter 8. Measuring Up

It is all too easy to mix up units of measurement in a long, intricate computer program. When such a mix-up occurs, the consequences can be extremely costly, even tragic. One of the most famous examples is the crash of NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999. Investigation into the accident revealed that the crash was caused by a unit mismatch; pound-force seconds were used instead of newton seconds. This error led to an incorrect trajectory calculation and ultimately to the vehicle’s demise.

One can argue that proper testing should have detected the calculation error and thus prevented the crash, but a bigger question is whether the error would have even occurred if the programming language had enforced the proper units through ...

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