# Writing Functions¶

We've already been using functions, but how do you write them on your own?

In Python we do this using the following structure:

def function_name(inputs):
commands
return output_value


• def tells Python that we're creating a function
• function_name is how we refer to the function in our program
• the commands control what the function does with the inputs
• return tells Python what output to send back to the rest of the program.

Then indentation is important because it tells Python what is inside the function. You end a function by stopping the indenting.

For example, if we wanted to write a function that converts pounds to kilograms:

In :
def convert_kg_to_g(weight_kg):
weight_g = weight_kg * 1000
return weight_g


We can then call that function exactly like we would one of Python's built in functions:

In :
convert_kg_to_g(2.2)

Out:
2200.0

## Functions can have multiple inputs¶

Let's say we've fit a linear regression to some data and want to get a prediction based on the fitted parameters.

In :
def predicted_value(a, b, x):
prediction = a + b * x
return prediction

predicted_value(2, 1, 1)

Out:
3

## Define Functions Create Instructions¶

• Defining a function creates a set of instructions, but doesn't do anything with them
• Like describing to a friend how to make a PB&J sandwhich
• When you call the function the computer follows those instructions and creates a value
• If you want to do something with that value you need to store it in a variable
• Functions need to be defined before they are called.

## Local Variables¶

Variables created inside a Python function only exist inside that function.

In :
def convert_kg_to_g(weight_kg):
weight_g = weight_kg * 1000
return weight_g
result = convert_kg_to_g(3.9)
print weight_g

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
NameError                                 Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-4-e642eed7c18d> in <module>()
3     return weight_g
4 result = convert_kg_to_g(3.9)
----> 5 print weight_g

NameError: name 'weight_g' is not defined

You should also treat functions as if they don't know about variables outside of them, so they should only work with things that you pass them as input.