The demands of the digital world are increasing every day. Software companies and more precisely, developer communities are trying to make use of technology stacks that seamlessly solve real-world problems. Software developers employ various programming languages and styles depending on which is a better fit for the solution required. In this article, we will look at the role of functional programming and what benefits it gives to the development community.
What is Functional Programming?
Functional programming is a way of writing code that strictly binds the programs through functions. It is a function-oriented approach in which the code is written purely in mathematical functions. It follows a declarative style of programming that takes into consideration the aspect of solving the kind of problems rather than the method of solving them. The mathematical expressions take some form of input from the user, process it through written code, and give output.
The concept of functional programming is based on describing what you want to do. You do not write any complex code in which a for-loop keeps on iterating the variables. It does not tangle multiple variables that are highly dependent on the results of some functions. The ultimate purpose of using functional programming is to make code clear to yourself and define functions for each process that is part of your problem. Once the functions are defined, they are connected together to create a collective solution.
Some developers try to map functional programming in python and other programming languages. Haskell, F#, Elixir, Clojure, Racket, Common Lisp, OCaml, Scheme, and Scala are some pure functional programming languages.
Benefits of Functional Programming
There are various pros and cons of functional programming languages. Some potential benefits are:
This is one of the biggest benefits of functional programming. Brevity focuses on keeping the code very concise. The program written on the concepts of functional programming does not involve any complex methods. For instance, it does not keep on iterating the variables in a loop for long. The overhead of complexity is therefore not an issue in functional programming.
Concurrency in code is easy to achieve with functional programming. The code written in the form of functions eliminates the excessive work for the compiler. Most of the operations/functions written are handled by the compiler in an efficient way. Once the code is consistent in its nature, it makes readability and comprehension easier for the programmer. Consistency is also useful when it comes to making changes in the code in the future.
Functional programming is serviceable from the performance point of view. From the context of a single processor, functional programming languages ensure enhanced performance. It mitigates the lazy evaluation and compilation of the code. Moreover, when more extensions are integrated in the compiler, it does not affect the performance of the program. This means that for highly scalable projects, functional programming works really well.
One of the major points of concentration in functional programming is that it is based on pure functions. These pure functions tend to focus individually on a particular functionality or feature of the system. When a function is totally dependent on the input, it becomes easy to understand the state of the program. The return type and the arguments are given out by the function signatures. The benefit of pure functions also ensures enhanced consistency within the code. The reason is that pure functions avoid changing the variables as well as the data outside the code, therefore implementing concurrency becomes more effective.
Functional programming is less prone to errors or bugs in code. The code follows a consistent approach in the form of pure functions. Each function is associated with some purpose and an output value. This structured way of writing code reduces the risks of errors during compilation. Moreover, even if there are errors, in functional programming, debugging is easier to do. The reason is that it depends on the input parameters that produce outputs accordingly, it becomes easy to debug the errors as you track the piece of code that is giving errors by studying output in a part of the program.
Functional programming language involves simple recursion. There are immutable variables that have fewer side effects. The concept of lazy evaluation is followed here in which the value of the variable is stored only when it is required. There is no hidden output that ultimately makes recursion very simple.
As the code is written in pure functions form, there is no hidden argument and output, therefore the testing phase becomes simple for the programmers. The testing techniques such as property-based testing make the phase even easier. With fewer bugs and easy debugging, QA for functional programming is not hard.
A number of benefits of functional programming make it very useful when it comes to solving real-world problems. It is also a good practice to follow while writing code in the form of pure functions. However, the decision should always be taken in light of the issue you are solving.
Do you think functional programming is the future for the development community?