Functions

Functions in Python are super useful in separating your code, but they don’t stop there. Any code that you think you will ever use anywhere else, you should probably put in a function. You can also add arguments to your functions to have more flexible functions, but we will get to that in a little bit. You can define a function by using the keyword def before your function name. Let’s use our first Python function.

Example
def someFunction():
    print("boo")
someFunction()
Result boo

It is necessary to define functions before they are called. Even though we have to skip over the function while reading to see the first statement, someFunction(). This throws us back up into the def someFunction():, again with a colon following it. Then after we acknowledge that the function is being called, we create a new line with four spaces for our simple print statement.

Functions with Arguments

Simple functions like the one above are great and can be used quite often. However, there usually comes a time where we want to have the function act on data that the user inputs. We can do this with arguments inside of the () the follows the function name.

Example
def someFunction(a, b):
    print(a+b)
someFunction(12,451)
Result 463

Using the statement someFunction(12,451), we pass in 12, which becomes a in our function, and 451, which becomes b. Then, we just have a little print statement that adds them and prints them out.

Function Scope

Python does support global variables without you having to explicitly express that they are global variables. It’s much easier just to show rather than explain:

Example
def someFunction():
    a = 10
someFunction()
print (a)

This will cause an error because our variable, a, is in the local scope of someFunction. So, when we try to print a, Python will bite and say a isn’t defined. Technically, it is defined, but just not in the global scope. Now, let’s look at an example that works.

Example
a = 10 
def someFunction():
    print (a)
someFunction()

In this example, we defined a in the global scope. This means that we can call it or edit it from anywhere, including inside functions. However, you cannot declare a variable inside a function, local scope, to be used outside in a global scope.