EN - Functional Programming Concepts

EN - Functional Programming Concepts

2020, Apr 28    

Functional programming is a programming paradigm. A programming paradigm consists of the rules and design principles of building software; it’s a way of thinking about a programming language. The functional paradigm focuses on building software using pure functions organized in a way that describes what software must do, not how it must do it.

First-class and higher-order functions

Higher-order functions are functions that can either take other functions as arguments or return them as result. In calculus, an example of a higher order functions is the differential operator d/dx, which returns the derivative of a function f.

The distinction between the two is subtle: “higher-order” describes a mathematical concept of functions that operate on other functions, while “first-class” is a computer science term for programming language entities that have no restriction on their use.


All values are immutable. I use elixir programming language on that example:

list = [1, 2, 3, 4]
List.delete_at(list, -1)
# => [4]

list ++ [1]
# => [1, 2, 3, 4, 1]

# => # => [1, 2, 3, 4]

Pure Functions

Pure function have these properties:

  • The value are immutable
  • The function result is affected only by the function arguments
  • The functions doesn’t generate effects beyond the value it returns

A simple example is:

add2 = fn (n) -> n + 2 end add2.(2)
# => 4

Declarative Code

Programming declaratively usually generates less code than programming imperatively. Less code means fewer things to write, more things done, and fewer bugs.

To see the diference between imperative and declarative, let’s look at a simple example that transforms a list of strings into uppercase.

That example use imperative mindset with JavaScript

var list = ["we", "learning", "about fp"];

function upcase(list) {
    var newList = [];
    for (var i = 0; i < list.length; i++) {
    return newList; 

// => ["WE", "LEARNING", "ABOUT FP"]

and that example use declarative mindset with elixir ```elixir defmodule StringList do def upcase([]), do: [] def upcase([first | rest]), do: [String.upcase(first) | upcase(rest)] end

StringList.upcase([“we”, “learning”, “about fp”])