Functional programming becomes critical when the focus is the ultimate result – what to solve rather than how to solve it. There are several functional programming languages, and some of the most important ones include Scala, Common Lisp, Haskell, and Erlang. Haskell is used by Facebook, while WhatsApp uses Erlang.
In this blog, we present an outline of some of the most significant advantages of functional programming over the likes of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), among others. A discussion in this regard would help developers make better choices when choosing a language and optimize their approach. Furthermore, we would be able to understand why Mark Zuckerberg – one of the best minds in the industry – choose functional programming as the foundation for the most-used online platform.
Use of Pure Functions
Pure functions always produce the same output and have no external values affecting the end result. Because of this aspect of pure functions, algorithms developed using functional programming are easier to debug.
While most functional programming languages have similar advantages when it comes to the use of pure functions, Haskell, in particular, makes a clear demarcation between pure and impure functions. The information available publicly points out such features being built for functional programming with Scala too.
Pure functions follow the mathematics approach. For example, if you put in 2+2 in a calculator, the answer would always be 4. The same goes for pure functions. There is no third element involved, thereby making the functional program as pure as possible.
The use of pure functions ensures that functional programming is fully transparent. The strong demarcation between pure and impure functions in functional programming languages significantly enhances the degree of transparency achieved by these programs.
Also, pure functions work exclusively and only with the users’ inputs. On the contrary, object-oriented programs often engage with additional inputs and return outputs that aren’t always directly related to the user’s input.
Given that there aren’t any intermediary elements involved in functional programming, the algorithm works only with what the user provides. Consequently, irrespective of what the result is, it is directly related to the input and has no ‘hidden’ aspect to itself.
One of the most significant advantages of functional programming is that it only stores values when needed. There is a thorough evaluation that goes into the storage of the value. Doing so avoids repeated evaluation of the functional program’s inputs.
Haskell is a perfect example of this, as the foundation of this particular functional programming language is based on ‘lazy evaluation.’ This process ensures that the user can go back to the data structure as long as it’s not caught in dependencies. It also let go of temporary computations, ensuring that the algorithms’ time complexity is substantially reduced.
Along with the lazy evaluation, functional programming also comes with the benefit of enhanced readability of values. That is, the advantage of using pure values does not end at the changing of states. The value also ensures that the program is more readable, making it easier for the developer to comprehend the code.
Most functional programming languages are ‘high-level.’ And, since the user is treating every function as a value, it is easier for the user to memorize the functional program and eventually use those values in other functions.
The layman and most definite meaning of ‘variable’ is something that varies, changing from one state to another. In functional programming, however, it’s the complete opposite.
Here, the user cannot modify the variables once it has been initiated. Now, one may argue that the immutability of variables, when combined with the process of recursion, could lead to a fall in performance.
But, it is also imperative to understand that this aspect preserves the program till the end. Alongside the effective safeguarding that functional programming offers by using pure functions, this method makes functional programming languages more secure than others.
Seamless Parallel Programming
Any discussion on functional programming, especially its advantages, isn’t complete without a substantial reference to its ability to develop seamless, parallel programs. Indeed, developing parallel applications is one of the most popular use cases, particularly among developers practicing functional programming with Scala.
The primary factor enabling this is the static use of variables in functional programming languages. Since pure functions don’t change the variables and work exclusively upon the inputs of the user, it becomes much easier to deal with parallelism. Furthermore, given the enhanced reliability of these programs, the scope of error is significantly diminished, and the overall efficiency enhanced manifold.
Validating Functional Signatures
Functional programming makes functional signatures much more valid and meaningful when compared to other ways that don’t involve functional programs. The pure variables of functional programming language make sure that the signature gives all the information about how the function works, including details on their arguments and other information.
To summarize the advantages of functional programming, the user can use mathematics-like values and functions to yield results that have no outside influence and is well-evaluated throughout. Functional programming leads to a more transparent, cleaner code that helps the user in debugging and maintenance, and is fast becoming the go-to method for developers.
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