##In computer science, Functional Programming (“FP”) is a programming paradigm—a style of building the structure and elements of computer programs—that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids changing-state and mutable data.
Shortly, FP is a coding style based on the following two best practices, which together form the concept of functions purity:
- Immutability and
Why should we care
As of today, lodash is the most dependended-upon package on npm while underscore is the third most dependended-upon.
Lodash in numbers (impressive):
- 500,000+ daily downloads
- 13,000,000+ monthly downloads
- 11,300+ depended-upon packages
Underscore in numbers (still pretty impressive):
- 300,000+ daily downloads
- 6,900,000+ monthly downloads
- 9,400+ depended-upon packages
Things worth knowing about underscore
Underscore comes with a chain method. It allows us to use _.chain() to wrap a collection and then call other underscore functions on it before finally calling _.value() to unwrap the final result.
Taking a movies collection:
and some basic helpers
We can now create a complex operation by simply chaining together underscore functions. For example, to discover the lowest rating ever given to a recommended movie:
If _.chain seems well known and commonly used, fewer may be aware of an underscore hidden gem: compose. Compose is as close as we can get to function composition within underscore, by allowing us to returns the composition of a list of functions, where each function consumes the return value of the function that follows.
In math terms, composing the functions f(), g(), and h() produces f(g(h())).
Given some generic functions
We can now _.compose them to create a more powerful function out of the two:
Note: compose invokes the provided functions from right to left.
Things worth knowing about lodash
Lodash is born as a fork of underscore. Therefore, everything we just saw can also be achieved with lodash. For example, we may like compose but it may feel weird for its right to left math derived invocation. Lodash still permits that mathematical approach but also features a left-to-right version of the method simply called _.flow.
Lodash, representing underscore gen2 offer better performances thanks to advanced code optimizations. It can act as a drop-in replacement for underscore, and it won’t be hard to replace the first with the latter.
Among the extra perks that come with lodash one is worth exploring:
- fewer parameters then the function’s arity (arguments.length<function.length), most probably with odd results, or
- with too many, exceding the function’s arity (arguments.length>function.length) with the result that the arguments in excess normally get ignored.
A curried function is a function that may be invoked with fewer arguments than its original arity, returning a function ready to be invoked with the remaining ones.
Given a sum3 function, that when invoked with three arguments will return their sum, we can create its curried version as follows:
If you love the taste of curry (and you should, it’s damn tasty) then you’ll probably need to know about Ramda.
Ramda is not a drop-in replacement for underscore or lodash, as it has a more focused goal. It’s a library designed specifically for a functional programming style, one that makes it easy to create functional pipelines, one that never mutates user data.
Things worth knowing about Ramda
Function first, data last API
The parameters to Ramda functions are arranged to make it convenient for currying as the data to be operated on is supplied last.
lodash map vs. rampda map functions
Ramda functions are automatically curried. Currying allows you to easily build up new functions from old ones simply by not supplying the final parameters. This coupled with the function first, data last API make ramda not just functional purer, but also purely awesome.
Let’s then rebuild part of the underscore/lodash code we saw earlier with ramda instead.
Because every ramda function automatically curry, omitting to pass the collection argument to R.filter return us the curryed function so that we are ready to go.
Other previously encountered code re-factored with Ramda:
Is worth mentioning that there is a version of lodash that comes packed with functionFirst dataLast APIs and auto-currying, called lodash-fp. Let’s see how that could be beneficial, for example within a composition (flow) taken from the example we just saw:
We now know why we should care about some functional libraries, how to do chaining, composition and currying with them. For more info check their respective documentation: