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What is a Function?

A function in programming is a reusable block of code that

makes a program easier to test, understand and can be
modified easily without changing the calling program.
Fnctions to divide the code and modularize the program for
better and effective results. In short, a larger program is
divided into various subprograms which are called as

When you divide a large program into various functions it

becomes easy to manage each function individually.
Whenever an error occurs in the program you can easily
investigate faulty functions and correct only those errors. You
can easily call and use functions whenever they are required
which automatically leads in saving time and space.

Library Vs User defined Functions

Every ‘C’ program has at least one function which is the main
function but a program can have any number of functions.
The main () function is a starting point of a program.
In ‘C’ programming, functions are divided into two types:
1. Library functions
2. User-defined functions
The difference between the library and user-defined
functions is that we do not need to write a code for a library
function. It is already present inside the header file which we
always include at the beginning of a program. You just have
to type the name of a function and use it along with the
proper syntax.Printf, scanf are the examples of a library
Whereas, a user-defined function is a type of function in
which we have to write a body of a function and call the
function whenever we require the function to perform some
operation in our program.
A user-defined function is always written by the user but
later it can be a part of ‘C’ library. It is a major advantage of
‘C’ programming.
In ‘C’ programming functions are divided into three activities
such as,
1. Function declaration
2. Function definition
3. Function call

Function Declaration

Function declaration means writing a name of a program. It is

a compulsory part for using functions in code. In a function
declaration, we just specify the name of a function that we
are going to use in our program like a variable declaration.
We cannot use a function unless it is declared in a program.
Function declaration is called function prototype.

The function declarations (called prototype) are usually done

above the main () function and take the general form:
return_data_type function_name (data_type
- The return_data_type: is the data type of the value
function returned back to the calling statement.
- The function_name: is followed by parentheses
- Arguments names with their data type declarations
optionally are placed inside the parentheses.
We consider the following program that shows how to
declare a cube function to calculate the cube value of an
integer variable
#include <stdio.h>
/*Function declaration*/
int add(int a,b);
/*End of Function declaration*/
int main() {
Keep in mind that a function does not necessarily return a
value. In this case, the keyword void is used.
For example, the output_message function declaration
indicates that the function does not return a value: void

Function definition
Function definition means just writing the body of a function.
A body of a function consists of statements which are going
to perform a specific task. A function body consists of a single
or a block of statements. It is also a mandatory part of a

<pre>int add(int a,int b) //function

int c;
return c;

Function call

A function call means calling a function whenever it is

required in a program. Whenever we call a function, it
performs an operation for which it was designed. A function
call is an optional part in a program.
<pre> result = add(4,5);
Here, is th complete code:
int add(int a, int b); //function declaration
int main()
int a=10,b=20;
int c=add(10,20); //function call
int add(int a,int b) //function body
int c;
return c;
Function Arguments
A function's arguments are used to receive the necessary
values by the function call.They are matched by position; the
first argument is passed to the first parameter, the second to
the second parameter and so on.
By default, the arguments are passed by value in which a
copy of data is given to the called function. The actual passed
variable will not change.
We consider the following program which demonstrates
parameters passed by value:
#include <stdio.h>
int add (int x, int y);
int main() {
int a, b, result;
a = 5;
b = 10;
result = add(a, b);
printf("%d + %d\ = %d\n", a, b, result);
return 0;}
int add (int x, int y) {
x += y;
The program output is: <pre>5 + 10 = 15 </pre>
Keep in mind that the values of a and b were passed to add
function were not changed because only its value was passed
into the parameter x.

Variable Scope
Variable scope means the visibility of variables within a code
of program.
In C, variables which are declared inside a function are local
to that block of code and cannot be referred to outside the
function. However, variables which are declared outside all
functions are global and accessible from the entire program.
Constants declared with a #define at the top of a program
are accessible from entire program.We consider the
following program which print the value of global variable
from both main and used defined function :
#include <stdio.h>
int global = 1348;
void test();
int main() {
printf("from the main function : global =%d \n", global);
test () ;
return 0;}
void test (){
printf("from user defined function : global =%d \n",
Result: <pre>
from the main function : global =1348
from user defined function : global =1348
We discuss the program details:

A- We declare an integer globale variable with 1348 as initial value.

B- We declare and define a test() function which neither takes arguments nor returns a
value.This function only prints the globale variable value to demonstrate that the global
variables can be accessed anywhere in the program.
C- We print the global variable within the main function.
D- We call the test function in orde to print the global variable value.

In C, when arguments are passed to function parameters, the

parameters act as local variables which will be destroyed
when exiting the function.
When you use global variables, use them with caution
because can lead to errors and they can changed anywhere
in a program. They should be initialized before using.

Static Variables
The static variables have a local scope. However, they are not
destroyed when exiting the function. Therefore, a static
variable retains its value forever and can be accessed when
the function is re-entered. A static variable is initialized when
declared and needs the prefix static.
The following program uses a static variable:
#include <stdio.h>
void say_hi();
int main() {
int i;
for (i = 0; i < 5; i++) { say_hello();}
return 0;}
void say_hi() {
static int calls_number = 1;
printf("Hi number %d\n", calls_number);
calls_number ++; } </pre>
The program displays :
Hi number 1
Hi number 2
Hi number 3
Hi number 4
Hi number 5

Recursive Functions
Consider the factorial of a number which is calculated as
follow 6! =6* 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1.
This calculation is done as repeatedly calculating fact *
(fact -1) until fact equals 1.
A recursive function is a function who calls itself and
includes an exit condition in order to finish the recursive
calls. In the case of the factorial number calculation, the
exit condition is fact equals to 1. Recursion works by
"stacking" calls until the exiting condition is true.

For example:
#include <stdio.h>
int factorial(int number);
int main() {
int x = 6;
printf("The factorial of %d is %d\n", x, factorial(x));
return 0;}
int factorial(int number) {
if (number == 1) return (1); /* exiting condition */
return (number * factorial(number - 1));
} </pre>
The program displays: <pre> The factorial of 6 is 720
Here,we discuss program details:

A- We declare our recursive factorial function which takes an integer parameter and returns
the factorial of this parameter.
This function will call it self and decrease the number until the exiting or the base condition
is reached.When the condition is true,the previous generated values will be multiplied by
each other and the final factorial value is returned.
B- We declare and initialize an integer variable with value”6” and then print its factorial value
by calling our factorial function.

The recursive function process may be explained using the following chart to more understand
about recursive mechanism which concistes of calling the function its self until the base case or
stopping condition is reached and after that we collect the previous values:
Inline Functions
Functions are used to store the most frequently used
instructions. It is used for modularizing the program.
Whenever a function is called, the instruction pointer jumps
to the function definition. After executing a function,
instruction pointer falls back to the statement from where it
jumped to the function definition.
Whenever we use functions we require an extra pointer head
to jump to the function definition and return back to the
statement. To eliminate the need of such pointer heads, we
use inline functions.
In an inline function, a function call is directly replaced by an
actual program code. It does not jump to any block because
all the operations are performed inside the inline function.
Inline functions are mostly used for small computations. They
are not suitable when large computing is involved.
An inline function is similar to the normal function except
that keyword inline is place before the function name. Inline
functions are created with the following syntax:
<pre>inline function_name ()
//function definition
Let us write a program to implement an inline function.

inline int add(int a, int b) //inline function
int main()
int c=add(10,20);
<pre>Addition: 30
</pre>Above program demonstrates the use of an inline
function for addition of two numbers. As we can see, we
have returned the addition on two numbers within the inline
function only without writing any extra lines. During function
call we have just passed values on which we have to perform

 A function is a mini-program or a subprogram.
 Functions are used to modularize the program.
 Library and user-defined are two types of functions.
 A function consists of a declaration, function body, and a
function call part.
 Function declaration and body are mandatory.
 A function call can be optional in a program.
 C program has at least one function, it is the main function
 Each function has a name,data type of return value or a
void ,parameters .
 Each function must be defined and declared in your C
 Keep in mind that ordinary variables in a C function are
destroyed as soon as we exit the function call .
 The arguments passed to a function will not be changed
because they passed by value none by address.
 The variable scope is referred as the visibility of variables
within a program
 There are global and local variables in C programming