Python Functions

Education is not limited to just classrooms. It can be gained anytime, anywhere... - Ravi Ranjan (M.Tech-NIT)

Functions are the re-usable pieces of code which helps us to organize structure of the code. We create functions so that we can run a set of statements multiple times during in the program without repeating ourselves.

Creating functions

Python uses def keyword to start a function, here is the syntax:

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def function_name(arg1, arg2, arg3, .... argN):

     #statement inside function

Note: All the statements inside the function should be indented using equal spaces. Function can accept zero or more arguments(also known as parameters) enclosed in parentheses. You can also omit the body of the function using the  pass keyword, like this:

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def myfunc():

    pass

Let’s see an example.

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def sum(start, end):

   result = 0

   for i in range(start, end + 1):

       result += i

   print(result)

 

sum(10, 50)

Expected output:

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1230

Above we define a function called sum()  with two parameters start  and end , function calculates the sum of all the numbers starting from start  to end .

Function with return value.

The above function simply prints the result to the console, what if we want to assign the result to a variable for further processing ? Then we need to use the return statement. The  return statement sends a result back to the caller and exits the function.

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def sum(start, end):

   result = 0

   for i in range(start, end + 1):

       result += i

   return result

 

s = sum(10, 50)

print(s)

Expected Output:

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1230

Here we are using return  statement to return the sum of numbers and assign it to variables .

You can also use the return statement without a return value.

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def sum(start, end):

   if(start > end):

       print("start should be less than end")

       return    # here we are not returning any value so a special value None is returned

   result = 0

   for i in range(start, end + 1):

       result += i

   return result

 

s = sum(110, 50)

print(s)

Expected Output:

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start should be less than end

None

In python if you do not explicitly return value from a function , then a special value  None  is always returned. Let’s take an example

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def test():   # test function with only one statement

    i = 100

print(test())

Expected Output

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None

as you can see test()  function doesn’t explicitly return any value. so None is returned.

Global variables vs local variables

Global variables: Variables that are not bound to any function , but can be accessed inside as well as outside the function are called global variables.

Local variables: Variables which are declared inside a function are called local variables.

Let’s see some examples to illustrate this point.

Example 1:

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global_var = 12         # a global variable

 

def func():

    local_var = 100     # this is local variable

    print(global_var)   # you can access global variables in side function

 

func()                  # calling function func()

 

#print(local_var)        # you can't access local_var outside the function, because as soon as function ends local_var is destroyed

Expected Output:

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12


Example 2:

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xy = 100

 

def cool():

    xy = 200     # xy inside the function is totally different from xy outside the function

    print(xy)    # this will print local xy variable i.e 200

 

cool()

 

print(xy)        # this will print global xy variable i.e 100

Expected Output:

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200

100

You can bind local variable in the global scope by using the global keyword followed by the names of variables separated by comma ( ,).

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t = 1

 

def increment():

    global t   # now t inside the function is same as t outside the function

    t = t + 1

    print(t) # Displays 2

 

 

increment()

print(t) # Displays 2

Expected Output:

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2

Note that you can’t assign a value to variable while declaring them global .

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t = 1

 

def increment():

    #global t = 1   # this is error

    global t

    t = 100        # this is okay

    t = t + 1

    print(t) # Displays 101

 

 

increment()

print(t) # Displays 101

Expected Output:

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101

101

In fact there is no need to declare global variables outside the function. You can declare them global inside the function.

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def foo():

    global x   # x is declared as global so it is available outside the function

    x = 100

 

 

foo()

print(x)

 

Expected Output:

 

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100

 

Argument with default values

To specify default values of argument, you just need to assign a value using assignment operator.

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def func(i, j = 100):

    print(i, j)

Above function has two parameter i  and j . j  has default value of 100 , means we can omit value of j while calling the function.

 

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func(2) # here no value is passed to j, so default value will be used

Expected Output:

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2 100

 

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func(2, 300) # here 300 is passed as a value of j, so default value will not be used

Expected Output:

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2 300

 

Keyword arguments

There are two ways to pass arguments to method: positional arguments and Keyword arguments. We have already seen how positional arguments work in the previous section. In this section we will learn about keyword arguments.

Keyword arguments allows you to pass each arguments using name value pairs like this  name=value . Let’s take an example:

 

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def named_args(name, greeting):

    print(greeting + " " + name )

 

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named_args(name='jim', greeting='Hello')

Hello jim

 

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named_args(greeting='Hello', name='jim') # you can pass arguments this way too

Hello jim

 

Mixing Positional and Keyword Arguments

It is possible to mix positional arguments and Keyword arguments, but for this positional argument must appear before any Keyword arguments. Let’s see this through an example.

 

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def my_func(a, b, c):

    print(a, b, c)

You can call the above function in the following ways.

 

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# using positional arguments only

my_func(12, 13, 14)    

 

# here first argument is passed as positional arguments while other two as keyword argument

my_func(12, b=13, c=14)

 

# same as above

my_func(12, c=13, b=14)

 

# this is wrong as positional argument must appear before any keyword argument

# my_func(12, b=13, 14)

Expected Output:

 

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12 13 14

12 13 14

12 14 13

 

Returning multiple values from Function

We can return multiple values from function using the return statement by separating them with  a comma ( ,). Multiple values are returned as tuples.

 

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def bigger(a, b):

    if a > b:

        return a, b

    else:

        return b, a

 

s = bigger(12, 100)

print(s)

print(type(s))

Expected Output:

 

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(100, 12)

<class 'tuple'>

In the next post we will learn about Python Loops