C++ User-Defined Functions

Every programming language allows functions to be created and used. A function is a group of statements that can be reused. It allows us to write code that is clean and manageable. A function can be either user-defined or built-in (predefined).

User-defined functions are those that are written by programmers, not but the language creators. On the other hand,  Built-in functions are predefined functions of a language.

Benefits of Using Functions

  • Stores a block of code and makes it reusable across one or multiple programs.
  • Eliminates redundant code by storing it in one single place.
  • Saves time and cost by making the code easier to debug, maintain and update.

Defining Functions

To use functions in your program, you must first define them. Defining a function allows us to specify the behavior and code for the function.

Function declaration Syntax

The syntax for defining a function in C++ is:

return_type function_name() {
  // function body...
}

Function Parts

A function definition has different parts as explained below:

1. Return Type

All functions can optionally return some value on successful execution. The data type of value that the function returns must match the return type of the function.

A function that does not return a value is declared as void function.

2. Function Name

The name of the function must be a valid identifier. It follows the same rules for naming variables in C++.

3. Function Body

The function body contains the code that we want to execute when the function is used.

Example of a function that reads and prints out a number:

void print() {
  int num;
  cout << " Enter a number: ";
  cin >> num;
  cin << " The entered number is: " << num;
}

Declaring Functions

In C++, declaring a function is pretty similar to declaring a variable which informs the proper way to the compiler on how to call it.

A function can be defined in two locations:

1. Before main()

If we define a function before main(), it acts both as a declaration and definition.

return_type function_name() {
  // function body
}
void main() {
  // use the function
  function_name()
}

2. After the main() function.

If the function is defined after main(), we must declare it otherwise the compiler will throw an error. Declaring a function specifies the return type and the function name.

// declaration just specifies the function.
return_type function_name();
void main() {
  // use the function
  function_name()
}
// definition contains the function body
return_type function_name() {
  // function body
}

Using Functions

To use user-defined functions, we need to invoke/call them. In programming, executing a function is known as invoking or calling it.

We can invoke a function by specifying its name and putting a pair of parenthesis:

function_name();

Invoking a function that is not defined will throw an error.

Example:

/* define the function */
void greet() {
  cout << "Welcome, user! ";
  cout << "It's great to see you here. ";
}
int main() {
  /* invoke method in your code where you want */
  greet();
  cout << "From main.";
  /* other code */
}

The code will execute sequentially as the output below:

Welcome, user!
It’s great to see you here.
From main.

Scope in functions

Scope in programming defines the accessibility of variables and other data in a program. Any variable defined inside a function has a functional scope. It can be accessed and used only within the function where it is defined.

Moreover, every time a function is called, a new space in memory is allocated for its variables.

Points to Remember:

  • Functions help us to group up code and reuse it later.
  • Functions help to reduce the redundant code and reuse them later.
  • A Function must be defined or declared before it can be used. A function definition contains three parts – return type, function name, and the function body.
  • Variables declared inside a function, known as local variables, can only be accessed in that function due to scope rules.
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