Functions (Part-I)-C Programming

C Programming – Functions (Part-I)

In this tutorial you will learn about C Programming – Functions (Part-I) Functions are used in c for the following reasons, Function definition, Types of functions, Functions with no arguments and no return values, Functions with arguments but no return values, Functions with arguments and return values, Return value data type of function and Void functions.

The basic philosophy of function is divide and conquer by which a complicated tasks are successively divided into simpler and more manageable tasks which can be easily handled. A program can be divided into smaller subprograms that can be developed and tested successfully.

A function is a complete and independent program which is used (or invoked) by the main program or other subprograms. A subprogram receives values called arguments from a calling program, performs calculations and returns the results to the calling program.

There are many advantages in using functions in a program they are:

1. It facilitates top down modular programming. In this programming style, the high level logic of the overall problem is solved first while the details of each lower level functions is addressed later.

2. the length of the source program can be reduced by using functions at appropriate places. This factor is critical with microcomputers where memory space is limited.

3. It is easy to locate and isolate a faulty function for further investigation.

4. A function may be used by many other programs this means that a c programmer can build on what others have already done, instead of starting over from scratch.

5. A program can be used to avoid rewriting the same sequence of code at two or more locations in a program. This is especially useful if the code involved is long or complicated.

6. Programming teams does a large percentage of programming. If the program is divided into subprograms, each subprogram can be written by one or two team members of the team rather than having the whole team to work on the complex program

We already know that C support the use of library functions and use defined functions. The library functions are used to carry out a number of commonly used operations or calculations. The user-defined functions are written by the programmer to carry out various individual tasks.

Functions are used in c for the following reasons:

1. Many programs require that a specific function is repeated many times instead of writing the function code as many timers as it is required we can write it as a single function and access the same function again and again as many times as it is required.

2. We can avoid writing redundant program code of some instructions again and again.

3. Programs with using functions are compact & easy to understand.

4. Testing and correcting errors is easy because errors are localized and corrected.

5. We can understand the flow of program, and its code easily since the readability is enhanced while using the functions.

6. A single function written in a program can also be used in other programs also.

Function definition:

[ data type] function name (argument list)
argument declaration;
local variable declarations;
[return expression]

Example :

int a,b;
int y;
return y;

When the value of y which is the addition of the values of a and b. the last two statements ie,
y=a+b; can be combined as

Types of functions:

A function may belong to any one of the following categories:
1. Functions with no arguments and no return values.
2. Functions with arguments and no return values.
3. Functions with arguments and return values.

Functions with no arguments and no return values:

Let us consider the following program
/* Program to illustrate a function with no argument and no return values*/
/*function to print a message*/
printf(“\n Sample subprogram output”);
printf(“\n Sample subprogram output two”);
int a;
for (a=1;a<60;a++)

In the above example there is no data transfer between the calling function and the called function. When a function has no arguments it does not receive any data from the calling function. Similarly when it does not return value the calling function does not receive any data from the called function. A function that does not return any value cannot be used in an expression it can be used only as independent statement.

Functions with arguments but no return values:

The nature of data communication between the calling function and the arguments to the called function and the called function does not return any values to the calling function this shown in example below:

Consider the following:
Function calls containing appropriate arguments. For example the function call

value (500,0.12,5)

Would send the values 500,0.12 and 5 to the function value (p, r, n) and assign values 500 to p, 0.12 to r and 5 to n. the values 500,0.12 and 5 are the actual arguments which become the values of the formal arguments inside the called function.

Both the arguments actual and formal should match in number type and order. The values of actual arguments are assigned to formal arguments on a one to one basis starting with the first argument as shown below:


function body;

here a1,a2,a3 are actual arguments and f1,f2,f3 are formal arguments.

The no of formal arguments and actual arguments must be matching to each other suppose if actual arguments are more than the formal arguments, the extra actual arguments are discarded. If the number of actual arguments are less than the formal arguments then the unmatched formal arguments are initialized to some garbage values. In both cases no error message will be generated.

The formal arguments may be valid variable names, the actual arguments may be variable names expressions or constants. The values used in actual arguments must be assigned values before the function call is made.

When a function call is made only a copy of the values actual arguments is passed to the called function. What occurs inside the functions will have no effect on the variables used in the actual argument list.

Let us consider the following program

/*Program to find the largest of two numbers using function*/
int a,b;
printf(“Enter the two numbers”);
/*Function to find the largest of two numbers*/
largest(int a, int b)
printf(“Largest element=%d”,a);
printf(“Largest element=%d”,b);

in the above program we could make the calling function to read the data from the terminal and pass it on to the called function. But function foes not return any value.

Functions with arguments and return values:

The function of the type Arguments with return values will send arguments from the calling function to the called function and expects the result to be returned back from the called function back to the calling function.

To assure a high degree of portability between programs a function should generally be coded without involving any input output operations. For example different programs may require different output formats for displaying the results. Theses shortcomings can be overcome by handing over the result of a function to its calling function where the returned value can be used as required by the program. In the above type of function the following steps are carried out:

1. The function call transfers the controls along with copies of the values of the actual arguments of the particular function where the formal arguments are creates and assigned memory space and are given the values of the actual arguments.

2. The called function is executed line by line in normal fashion until the return statement is encountered. The return value is passed back to the function call is called function.

3. The calling statement is executed normally and return value is thus assigned to the calling function.

Note that the value return by any function when no format is specified is an integer.

Return value data type of function:

A C function returns a value of type int as the default data type when no other type is specified explicitly. For example if function does all the calculations by using float values and if the return statement such as return (sum); returns only the integer part of the sum. This is since we have not specified any return type for the sum. There is the necessity in some cases it is important to receive float or character or double data type. To enable a calling function to receive a non-integer value from a called function we can do the two things:

1. The explicit type specifier corresponding to the data type required must be mentioned in the function header. The general form of the function definition is

Type_specifier function_name(argument list)
Argument declaration;
function statement;

The type specifier tells the compiler, the type of data the function is to return.

2. The called function must be declared at the start of the body in the calling function, like any other variable. This is to tell the calling function the type of data the function is actually returning. The program given below illustrates the transfer of a floating-point value between functions done in a multiple function program.

float x,y,add();
double sub(0;
printf(“%f\n” add(x,y));
float add(a,b)
float a,b;
double sub(p,q)
double p,q;

We can notice that the functions too are declared along with the variables. These declarations clarify to the compiler that the return type of the function add is float and sub is double.

Void functions:

The functions that do not return any values can be explicitly defined as void. This prevents any accidental use of these functions in expressions.



void starline();
void message();
void printline
void value


3 responses to “Functions (Part-I)-C Programming

    • Hi kevin,

      Inform to your friends about this blog might be they can also learn lot.
      in future i will come with lot of updates(Embedded Systems and C)

      All the best,
      Thanks for visiting my blog.

      M Swamy Kotipalli

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