How To Fly a Spaceship

An Introduction to the Functional Paradigm

By Captain James T. Kirk

By Zach Fedor

But first,

a parable

How to Drive a Car

  • they all have the same integral parts
  • they all follow the same constraints
  • they all serve the same purpose

Knowledge gained from driving one car is easily transferred to another with minimal inconvenience.

Paradigm

noun     /ˈperəˌdīm/

 

a typical example of something; a model

Spaceships Aren't Cars

So our paradigm is useless:

  • Steering wheel for a third dimension?
  • Shift into reverse?
  • Radio in lightspeed?
  • We don't need roads?

Next up,

Definitions

Imperative

Motto:

    "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step"

 

Building Block:

    The How Statement

 

Languages:

    Java, PHP, Python, Ruby

Declarative

Motto:

    "I accept reality and dare not question it"

 

Building Block:

    The What Statement

 

Languages:

    CSS, SQL, Regular Expressions

Some Metaphors

Go to 342 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603

 

 

Can I have a Big Mac?

 

Walk east on King St and turn right onto Queen. Walk north four blocks and it's on your left.

 

Grill two beef patties, put them in between a sesame seed bun split in thirds. Add lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce.

Object Oriented

Motto:

    "Imitation ... is the sincerest form of learning"

 

Building Block:

    The Object

 

Languages:

    Java, PHP, Python, Ruby

Functional

Motto:

    "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it"

 

Building Block:

    The Function

 

Languages:

    Haskell, Lisp, Scala

Now it's time for some

Code Samples

function add(x, y) {
    return x + y;
}

How many inputs and outputs are there?

function saveCookie() {
    if (!document.cookie) {
        document.cookie = new Date();
    }
}

First Pillar:

pure Functions

  • do not rely on external state
  • do not alter external state
  • when given the same input, will always return the same output

 

How else can we express pure functions?

function square(x) {
    return x * x;
}
square(2);            // 4
square(4);            // 16
square(square(2));    // 16
var square = {
    1: 1,
    2: 4,
    3: 9,
    4: 16
};

square[2];    // 4
square[4];    // 16

Look familiar?

Second Pillar:

Referential Transparency

  • replacing an expression with its value will not change the result
  • easy to read code
  • easy to test code

What is referential transparency?

function factorial(x) {
    if (x === 1) {
        return x;
    } else {
        return x * factorial(x - 1);
    }
}
factorial(4);
4 * factorial(3);
4 * 3 * factorial(2);
4 * 3 * 2 * factorial(1);
4 * 3 * 2 * 1;
4 * 3 * 2;
4 * 6;
24;

Third Pillar:

Recursion

  • when a thing is defined in terms of itself
  • easier to read code
  • avoids mutation
function factorial(x) {
  var result = 1;
  
  for (x; x > 0; x--) {
    result = result * x;
  }
  
  return result;
}

What if you didn't use the word in the definition?

factorial(4);    // 24

// result = 1 * 4 = 4
// result = 4 * 3 = 12
// result = 12 * 2 = 24
// result = 24 * 1 = 24

What is so bad about re-assignment?

var count = 0;

function demo(x) {
    count++;
    return x + count;
}
demo(3);    // 4
demo(3);    // 5

demo(3) === demo(3);    // false

Fourth Pillar:

Immutability

  • when something is unchanging over time
  • easy to avoid mistakes
  • easy to test code

So What?

Non-Functional Code:

  • encourages side-effects
  • removes the substitution model
  • encourages verbose implementation details
  • adds the problem of time

 

 

Double all the numbers in an array:

var array = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
var doubled = [2, 4, 6, 8, 10];

Sum all the numbers in an array:

var array = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
var sum = 15;

Discount all the items in a shopping cart:

var items = [
    { product: 'rope', price: 140, quantity: 1 },
    { product: 'harness', price: 50, quantity: 2 },
    { product: 'carabiner', price: 9, quantity: 5 }
];

var discount = 0.2; 
var discountedItems = [
    { product: 'rope', price: 112, quantity: 1 },
    { product: 'harness', price: 40, quantity: 2 },
    { product: 'carabiner', price: 7.2, quantity: 5 }
];

var total = 228;

Paginate an array of blog posts:

var posts = [
    { title: "post one", date: "2017-01-04", content: "..." },
    { title: "post two", date: "2017-01-03", content: "..." },
    { title: "post three", date: "2017-01-02", content: "..." },
    { title: "post four", date: "2017-01-01", content: "..." },
    { title: "post five", date: "2016-12-31", content: "..." }
];
var pageOne = [
    { title: "post one", date: "2017-01-04", content: "..." },
    { title: "post two", date: "2017-01-03", content: "..." },
    { title: "post three", date: "2017-01-02", content: "..." }
];

var pageTwo = [
    { title: "post four", date: "2017-01-01", content: "..." },
    { title: "post five", date: "2016-12-31", content: "..." }
];

On click, change the text and class of a button:

$('#button').click(function() {
    $(this).toggleClass("active");

    $(this).text() === 'Click Me'
        ? $(this).text('Stop Clicking Me')
        : $(this).text('Click Me');
});
<Btn
  onClick={this.handleClick}
  color={this.state.color}>
    {this.state.text}
</Btn>

Next Steps

  • learn some advanced stuff
    • currying
    • composition
    • monads
  • try out a functional language like Elm
  • try out a functional framework like React
  • practice these concepts!

Questions?

Summary:

  1. Definition of the four main paradigms
  2. Pure functions to avoid side-effects
  3. Referential Transparency to make code more readable
  4. Recursion to avoid mutability
  5. Immutability to avoid problems with time

Go Fly a SpaceshiP!

@zachfedor

(if you need any directions)

How To Fly A Spaceship

By zach fedor

How To Fly A Spaceship

An Introduction to the Functional Paradigm

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