Functional Language

What Does Functional Language Mean?

A functional language is a programming language built over and around logical functions or procedures within its programming structure. It is based on and is similar to mathematical functions in its program flow.


Functional languages derive their basic structure from the mathematical framework of Lambda calculus and combinatory logic. Erlang, LISP, Haskell and Scala are the most well-known functional languages.

Techopedia Explains Functional Language

Comprised primarily of functions, functional language emphasizes the semantics, rather than compilation, of a program. Functional language does not have the side effects of traditional imperative styles of programming in that functional language does not change the state of a program and will return the same results until functions are passed with the same arguments.

However, the lack of side effects is also a drawback to functional language, as not all programs can be developed without these effects in place, especially those requiring changing states and the creation of input/output (I/O) procedures.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…