Functional programming

Higher-order functions are closely related to first-class functions in that higher-order functions and first-class functions both allow functions as arguments and results of other functions. The distinction between the two is subtle: "higher-order" describes a mathematical concept of functions that operate on other functions, while "first-class" is a computer science term for programming language entities that have no restriction on their use (thus first-class functions can appear anywhere in the program that other first-class entities like numbers can, including as arguments to other functions and as their return values).

fails under strict evaluation because of the division by zero in the third element of the list. Under lazy evaluation, the length function returns the value 4 (i.e., the number of items in the list), since evaluating it does not attempt to evaluate the terms making up the list. In brief, strict evaluation always fully evaluates function arguments before invoking the function. Lazy evaluation does not evaluate function arguments unless their values are required to evaluate the function call itself.

Higher-order functions are rarely used in older imperative programming. A traditional imperative program might use a loop to traverse and modify a list. A functional program, on the other hand, would probably use a higher-order “map” function that takes a function and a list, generating and returning a new list by applying the function to each list item.

The following two examples (written in JavaScript) achieve the same effect: they multiply all even numbers in an array by 10 and add them all, storing the final sum in the variable "result".

There are tasks (for example, maintaining a bank account balance) that often seem most naturally implemented with state. Pure functional programming performs these tasks, and I/O tasks such as accepting user input and printing to the screen, in a different way.