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LESSON 17
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Functions in Python (I)
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Introduction

We have frequently used functions so far, and they are essentially subroutines, or subprograms, that help us process information.

For example, the len function takes an object as a parameter and returns its length, whether it's a string, list, tuple, dictionary, or set:



Definition 1. A subprogram is understood to be a set consisting of declarations and instructions written for a specific processing task, a set implemented separately and identified by a name.

We can enumerate some of the advantages of using subprograms:

code reuse - once written, a subprogram can be used by multiple programs;
algorithm development by decomposing the problem into simpler ones - this way, we solve the problem much more easily;
reducing the number of errors that can occur when writing programs;
easily detecting errors - we first check the subprograms, then how we assembled them (called them within the program);
• creating easy-to-follow (readable) programs.

Functions can be grouped into modules, which are separate files with the *.py extension, that we can include in a program using the import directive (you will see how later).

Creating a Function

To begin, we will create a function within a program. Let's start with a simple case.

Example. Read n, a natural number. Write a program that prints the calculated value of the expression:



Analyze the following program, which uses a function named subp (short for subprogram), created by us:
Editor - lesson_17.py
       
Console/Output done
DETAILS

The function header is "def subp(x):", and its body is the indented compound statement (set of indented instructions):



The function (subprogram) is called "subp".

The function has a parameter named x. Its role is important because it specifies the value for which the expression needs to be calculated. As we will see, it is possible to have multiple parameters.

The function has its own variables - that is, variables defined/declared inside it. In the example, s and i. These variables are called local variables.

We saw that the function returns a certain result! Notice the mechanism by which we achieved this. We calculate the expression as usual. The result is stored in the local variable s. Through the instruction "return s", the function returns the value of the variable s.

Formal Parameters vs. Actual Parameters

In the terminology used in subprogram theory - in particular, in the case of functions - the terms formal parameters and actual parameters are used.

Definition 2. Parameters found in the function header are called formal parameters.

When writing a function, we do not know the actual values of the parameters. The function must return the correct result, regardless of their values. From this point of view, they are called formal.

Definition 3. Parameters used in the call are called actual parameters (arguments).

In the call, things are different: their values are known. Therefore, they are called actual parameters. For example, in the call "result = subp(n)", the actual parameter is n.
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