17 User-Defined Functions

This chapter explains functions from a user perspective with examples; see the language reference for a full specification. User-defined functions allow computations to be encapsulated into a single named unit and invoked elsewhere by name. Similarly, functions allow complex procedures to be broken down into more understandable components. Writing modular code using descriptively named functions is easier to understand than a monolithic program, even if the latter is heavily commented.26


  1. The main problem with comments is that they can be misleading, either due to misunderstandings on the programmer’s part or because the program’s behavior is modified after the comment is written. The program always behaves the way the code is written, which is why refactoring complex code into understandable units is preferable to simply adding comments.