Functional Programming

Functional Programming

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Functional programming is a programming paradigm or style that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids changing-state and mutable data. It emphasizes the application of functions, in contrast to the procedural programming approach, which emphasizes changes in state and the execution of sequential commands.

Here are a few key concepts and features of functional programming:

  1. Pure functions: A key tenet of functional programming is the use of pure functions. These functions take an input and produce an output without modifying the input or changing anything about the system state. This has the advantage of avoiding side effects, making the behavior of the program more predictable and easier to understand.
  2. Immutability: In functional programming, once a variable is set, its value can’t be changed. Instead, new variables are created from existing values. This reduces the risk of unintended side-effects from changing a variable’s value.
  3. First-class and higher-order functions: Functions in functional programming are treated like any other variable. They can be passed as arguments to other functions (higher-order functions), and they can be returned as values from other functions. This opens up powerful possibilities for composing functions to create complex behaviors.
  4. Recursion: Because there is no mutable state in functional programming, loops in the traditional sense don’t exist. Instead, functional programming uses recursion – the process by which a function calls itself – for tasks that would require iteration in other paradigms.
  5. Declarative nature: Functional programming is considered more declarative than imperative. In other words, you write code that describes what you want to do, not how you want to do it.

Languages that are most often associated with functional programming include Lisp, Scheme, Clojure, Haskell, and Erlang. Other languages, such as JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, support functional programming but are not purely functional languages. They are multi-paradigm languages that allow for a mix of procedural, object-oriented, and functional programming.

Functional programming can be quite different from other common paradigms, and it might require a different way of thinking about how to solve problems. However, it can be particularly useful in situations where concurrency, or the ability to easily reason about code behavior, is important. As such, it has seen increasing popularity in areas such as distributed computing, real-time analytics, and other complex systems.

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