Python Language Functions


Functions in Python provide organized, reusable and modular code to perform a set of specific actions. Functions simplify the coding process, prevent redundant logic, and make the code easier to follow. This topic describes the declaration and utilization of functions in Python.

Python has many built-in functions like print(), input(), len(). Besides built-ins you can also create your own functions to do more specific jobs—these are called user-defined functions.


  • def function_name(arg1, ... argN, *args, kw1, kw2=default, ..., **kwargs): statements
  • lambda arg1, ... argN, *args, kw1, kw2=default, ..., **kwargs: expression


arg1, ..., argNRegular arguments
*argsUnnamed positional arguments
kw1, ..., kwNKeyword-only arguments
**kwargsThe rest of keyword arguments


5 basic things you can do with functions:

  • Assign functions to variables

    def f():
    y = f
    # Output: 20
  • Define functions within other functions (Nested functions )

    def f(a, b, y):
        def inner_add(a, b):      # inner_add is hidden from outer code
            return a + b
        return inner_add(a, b)**y
  • Functions can return other functions

    def f(y):
        def nth_power(x):
            return x ** y
        return nth_power    # returns a function
    squareOf = f(2)         # function that returns the square of a number           
    cubeOf = f(3)           # function that returns the cube of a number
    squareOf(3)             # Output: 9
    cubeOf(2)               # Output: 8
  • Functions can be passed as parameters to other functions

    def a(x, y):
        print(x, y)
    def b(fun, str):        # b has two arguments: a function and a string 
        fun('Hello', str)
    b(a, 'Sophia')           # Output: Hello Sophia
  • Inner functions have access to the enclosing scope (Closure )

    def outer_fun(name):
        def inner_fun():     # the variable name is available to the inner function
            return "Hello "+ name + "!"
        return inner_fun
    greet = outer_fun("Sophia")
    print(greet())            # Output: Hello Sophia!

Additional resources