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Void Return Type Methods and Mathematical Functions

Ken Austin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 20, 2012
Posts: 39

While preparing for an upcoming Coursera course (Introduction to Algorithms) I came across this statement in the text

For example, the main() static method in our programs has a void return type
because its purpose is to produce output. Technically, void methods do not
implement mathematical functions
(and neither does Math.random(), which
takes no arguments but does produce a return value).
-- p. 24 Algorithms (4e), Sedgewick & Wayne

Bold mine.

The part in bold stumped me. Can someone walk me through that statement?
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11161
    
  16

The strict interpretation of a function is that basically, you give it some input (like 90 degrees), and you get some new value out - like 1. For any given input, there is exactly one possible output.

Since a method of type void does not give you back a return value, it does not fit the definition of a mathematical function.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 2996
    
    9
And since Math.random() takes no arguments, and since it gives you different results each time it's called, it's not a function either.
Ken Austin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 20, 2012
Posts: 39

Ah, yes. Thank you, both.

I was missing the computer science specific definition of the word "implement."

I thought we were about to get into a deep discussion about design theory.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38041
    
  22
No, more a deep discussion of maths.
 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
 
subject: Void Return Type Methods and Mathematical Functions
 
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