How to Design Programs: An Introduction to Programming and Computing

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
How to Design Programs: An Introduction to Computing and Programming [Go to first , previous , next page; contents ; index ] Section 3 Programs are Function Plus Variable Definitions In general, a program consists not just of one, but of many definitions. The area-of-ring program, for example, consists of two definitions: the one for area-of-ring and another one for area-of-disk . We refer to both as FUNCTION DEFINITION s and, using mathematical terminology in a loose way, say that the program is COMPOSED of several functions. Because the first one, area-of-ring , is the function we really wish to use, we refer to it as the MAIN FUNCTION ; the second one, area-of-disk , is an AUXILIARY FUNCTION , occasionally also called HELPER FUNCTION . The use of auxiliary functions makes the design process manageable and renders programs readable. Compare the following two versions of area-of-ring : (define (area-of-ring outer inner) (- (area-of-disk outer) (area-of-disk inner))) (define (area-of-ring outer inner) (- (* 3.14 (* outer outer)) (* 3.14 (* inner inner)))) The definition on the left composes auxiliary functions. Designing it helped us break up the original problem into smaller, more easily solvable problems. Reading it reminds us of our reasoning that the area is the difference between the area of the full disk and the area of the hole. In contrast, the definition on the right requires a reader to reconstruct the idea that the two subexpressions compute the area of two disks. Furthermore, we would have had to produce the right definition in one monolithic block, without benefit of dividing the problem-solving process into smaller steps. For a small program such as area-of-ring , the differences between the two styles are minor. For large programs, however, using auxiliary functions is not an option but a necessity. That is, even if we are asked to write a single program, we should consider breaking it up into several small programs and COMPOSING them as needed. Although we are not yet in a position to develop truly large programs, we can still get a feeling for the idea by developing two versions in parallel. The first subsection contrasts the two development styles with an example from the business domain. It demonstrates how breaking up a program into several function definitions can greatly increase our confidence in the correctness of the overall program. The second subsection introduces the concept of a variable definition, which is an additional important ingredient for the development of programs. The last subsection proposes some exercises. 3.1 Composing Functions Consider the following problem: Imagine the owner of a movie theater who has complete freedom in setting ticket prices. The more he charges, the fewer the people who can afford tickets. In a recent experiment the owner determined a precise relationship between the price of a ticket and average attendance. At a price of $5.00 per ticket, 120 people attend a performance.
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern