[racket] Use of map and eval to evaluate symbol in namespace

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Mon Aug 4 20:07:29 EDT 2014

Henry Lenzi wrote at 08/04/2014 07:21 PM:
> I was just wondering, Neil. what your experience in "production for
> pharmaceutical prescriptions/labeling/instructions" software would be.
> I'd be glad to read some stuff you've published or other software
> solutions, if it's not proprietary software. If it is, what companies
> have you worked for in the health sector?

There have been many decades of work in software engineering for 
military/aerospace/datacommunications, which gives some background that 
can also be applied to, say, medical informatics.

For one example familiar to me, I worked on software tools and 
methodology that were used for things like (to give one specific, public 
example) designing the cockpit system for a particular model of military 
aircraft.  Some of my colleagues from back then later went to work on 
medical devices, which share some requirements for correctness and 

The fields of medicine have ongoing tremendous accomplishments. Many of 
the roles, such as physicians and pharma scientists, require immense 
training and discipline.  Still, as medical fields get more into areas 
of informatics and of process, my understanding is that they are 
currently learning from more established fields.  For one example: the 
widely-publicized finding that hospital staff following a "pre-flight 
checklist" each time when hooking up a patient lowered infection rates 
greatly.  That's many decades behind what people who work on aviation 
process have further found about process.

I'm not sure how to connect this general to individual computer 
programming practices, except to say that, in clusters of people who 
have done such-and-such kind of production work, I think that there is 
often general agreement about some of the best practices and pitfalls.  
For an example bringing us back to this email thread, many people on 
this email list come from different backgrounds of software development, 
to be enthusiasts of an especially powerful dynamic language platform, 
yet it seems that the majority(?) of us arrived at a wariness of "eval" 
independently, even though I'm not aware of any textbook that says 
"don't use eval" (textbooks often accidentally suggest the opposite).

BTW, "Don't use eval" is just one tip of many, and I didn't intend to 
spend so much text on it in this thread.

Neil V.

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