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In this article, we are going to explore the following topics:

  • The introductory of functional programming concept
  • Comparison between functional and imperative approach

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Introduction to functional programming

In functional programming, we use mathematic approach to construct our code. The function we’ve got in the code has similarity with mathematical function we usually use in our daily basis. The variable in the code function represents the value of the function parameter and it similar to the mathematical function. The idea is a programmer defines the functions, which contain the expression, definition, and also parameters which can be expressed by variable in order to solve the problems.

After a programmer builds the function and sends computer the function, it’s now computer’s turn to do its job. In general, the role of computer is to evaluate the expression in the function and return the result. We can imagine that the computer acts like a calculator since it will analyse the expression from the function and yield the result to the user in printed format. Suppose we have the expression 3 + 5 inside a function. The computer will definitely return 8 as the result just after completely evaluates it. However, it is just the trivial example of the acting of computer in evaluating the expression. In fact, the programmer can increase the ability of the computer by making the complex definition and expression inside the function. Not only can the computer evaluate the trivial expression, but it also can evaluate complex calculation and expression.

Comparison to imperative programming

The main difference between functional and imperative programming is the existence of side effect. In functional programming, since it applies pure function concept, the side effect is avoided. It’s different with imperative programming which has to access I/O and modify state outside the function which will produce side effect. In addition, with an imperative approach, the programmer focuses on the way of performing the task and tracking changes in state while a programmer focuses on the kind of desired information and the kind of required transformation in functional approach. The change of states becomes important in imperative programming while no change of states exist in functional programming.

The order of execution is also important in imperative function but not really important in functional programming since we need to concern more on constructing the problem as a set of functions to be execute rather than the detail step of the flow. We will continue our discussion about functional and imperative approach by creating some code in the next topics.


We have been acquainted with functional approach so far by discussing the introduction of functional programming. We also have compared the functional approach with mathematical concept in function. It’s now clear that functional approach uses the mathematical approach to compose functional program.

The comparison between functional and imperative programming has also give us the important point to distinguish the two. It’s now clear that in functional programming the programmer focuses on the kind of desired information and the kind of required transformation while in imperative approach the programmer focuses on the way of performing the task and tracking changes in state.

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