# Pure Functions and Side-Effects

In programming in general (this is not limited to JavaScript itself), there is a concept of a function that is "pure", which is the same as saying this function does not have any side-effects. What this means is that the function will not, and cannot, affect any variable or data or the environment around it.

It also means one other important thing: that this function, given the same arguments, will always return the same result. Pure functions don't affect or rely on information outside of the function itself - everything it needs is given to it via its arguments.

Let's put this as 2 clear cut examples. First, the wrong one : let's see the _impure _function:

let a = 5;

const impureAdd = (addValue) => {
  a = a + addValue;
  return a;

console.log(impureAdd(10)); // 15

console.log(a); // 15

So what's going on here? Inside the function, the value of a is being modified by the function itself. The function relies on a being defined first, and also has the side-effect of mutating (changing) the value of a outside of itself. This means that if anything later on is relying on the value of a, maybe that value is correct, maybe it's wrong, who knows? That's a side-effect.

Now let's go ahead and take a look at a pure function instead:

const a = 5;

const add = (num1, num2) => {
  return num1 + num2;

console.log(add(a, 10)); // 15
console.log(a); 5

It's pretty clear from this example that now the add function has no side effect. It takes 2 arguments, returns them as-is, and never affects anything around it.

Importantly, a function can have side-effects that don't directly relate to its arguments and return values. Indeed, this is a very bad function with a side-effect that will potentially break any code in your project or its dependencies:

// Never do this!
const setupProject = () {
  // poluting global is not good
  global.projectName = "My Project";
  // extending core javascript prototypes is horrible!
  Array.prototype.sample = function(){
    return this[Math.floor(Math.random()*this.length)];

The above does 2 different things which affect something outside of itself, and thus, is a function with two side-effects.