Demystifying Elixir Functions: A Comprehensive Guide — Part 4 -Subpart 3/3 of Our Elixir Series

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Elixir, a powerful and elegant language, thrives on its functional programming paradigm. Central to this paradigm are functions — first-class citizens in the Elixir world. They play a pivotal role in shaping the code and are vital for building scalable and maintainable Elixir applications. In the concluding part of our Elixir series, we will delve into the nuanced aspects of functions, embracing their rich features, and further elevating our Elixir skills.

11. Using the Enum Module

The Elixir language provides the powerful Enum module to manipulate collections like lists, maps, and ranges. It simplifies the process of working with these data structures and enables developers to write expressive and concise code.

Example 1: for Transformation

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
double = fn x -> x * 2 end
doubled_numbers =, double)

In this example, we use to transform a list of numbers. The double function is applied to each element in the list, effectively doubling their values.

Example 2: Enum.filter for Selection

fruits = ["apple", "banana", "cherry", "date", "elderberry"]
starts_with_c = fn fruit ->, 0) == "c" end
c_fruits = Enum.filter(fruits, starts_with_c)

Here, we utilize Enum.filter/2 to select fruits whose names start with the letter "c." The starts_with_c function acts as the filter criterion.

Example 3: Enum.reduce for Aggregation

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
sum = fn x, acc -> x + acc end
total = Enum.reduce(numbers, 0, sum)

In this case, we employ Enum.reduce/3 to calculate the sum of all numbers in the list. The sum function accumulates the result, starting from an initial value of 0.

Example 4: Enum.sort for Ordering

scores = [85, 92, 78, 96, 88]
sorted_scores = Enum.sort(scores)

In this example, we use Enum.sort/1 to sort a list of test scores in ascending order. The result is a new list with the scores arranged accordingly.

The Enum module simplifies working with collections, offering a wide array of functions for various tasks like mapping, filtering, reducing, and sorting. These operations are crucial for processing data efficiently in Elixir.

12. Using Comprehensions

Elixir comprehensions provide a concise and expressive way to build new lists by specifying the transformation or filtering rules. Comprehensions resemble mathematical set-builder notation, making the code more readable and declarative.

Example 1: List Comprehension for Transformation

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
doubled_numbers = for n <- numbers, do: n * 2

Here, we create a new list, doubled_numbers, by applying the transformation n * 2 to each element n in the original list.

Example 2: List Comprehension for Filtering

fruits = ["apple", "banana", "cherry", "date", "elderberry"]
c_fruits = for fruit <- fruits,, 0) == "c", do: fruit

In this case, we use a comprehension to filter fruits whose names start with “c.” The result is a new list, c_fruits, containing the filtered items.

Elixir comprehensions are concise and powerful, offering a compact syntax for working with lists. They provide an elegant way to express transformations and filters.

13. Pipelining Your Functions

Elixir encourages a functional programming style that leverages pipelines, denoted by the |> operator. This operator allows you to chain functions together, passing the output of one function as the input to the next. Pipelining enhances code readability and expressiveness.

Example 1: Data Transformation Pipeline

data = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
result = data
         |> * 2))
         |> Enum.filter(odd?/1)
         |> Enum.sum()

In this example, we create a data transformation pipeline for a list of numbers. We double each number, filter the odd values, and finally calculate the sum of the remaining numbers.

Pipelining your functions simplifies code structure and makes the data processing flow more explicit.

14. Function Currying

Function currying is a technique where a function that takes multiple arguments is transformed into a sequence of functions, each accepting one argument. In Elixir, this concept expands the capabilities of functions, enabling a more flexible and functional programming style.

Example 1: Currying with Multiple Functions

add = fn a -> fn b -> a + b end end
add_five = add.(5)
result = add_five.(3) # Returns 8

Here, we define a currying function add that takes two arguments. It returns a function that adds these two values. We then create a new function, add_five, by partially applying add with the value 5. This allows us to easily add 5 to any number.

Function currying provides a way to create reusable and specialized functions by breaking down complex functions into simpler building blocks.

Mastering these four topics — using the Enum module, comprehensions, pipelining functions, and function currying — is essential for building sophisticated and maintainable Elixir applications. They empower developers to write elegant, efficient, and expressive code in Elixir.


Our journey through Elixir’s functions has been an enlightening one. We’ve covered the foundations, dived into pattern matching, explored multiple function clauses, understood closures, and experienced higher-order functions. With this final part of the series, we’ve elevated our Elixir expertise by mastering the Enum module, comprehensions, pipelining functions, and function currying.

As we conclude our comprehensive guide to Elixir functions, we now possess the knowledge and skills to develop sophisticated and expressive Elixir applications. With the power of Elixir at our fingertips, we’re equipped to create code that is both elegant and efficient. Happy coding!

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