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Why Do Most Programming Languages Only Return a Single Value from a Function

Why Do Most Programming Languages Only Return a Single Value from a Function

Do you ever wonder why most of the programming languages come out with only one return value while they may support multiple input parameters? Although you may work out to remove this restriction, but returning a single value is a more natural way for many of these programming languages. Well, people have different ways of explaining this fact. Let us see how they commonly explain this logic.

Functional requirement

A function is such a mathematical construct that returns an output by doing a calculation. A functional requirement is something that leads to programming languages having mostly one input and one output. Programmers find parameters as awkward constructs that are not very useful in a wide range of scenarios. Thus, there is less demand for multiple parameters and that is how the functional requirement keeps the output limited to a single return value.

Better design and data structure

A single return value is also maintained to ensure a better structure of the data and process design. A well-defined function is always the one in which there is a single output for a provided input. Even for various multiple valued functions, it is all right to receive a collective value. Thus, programming languages keep it confined to the return of a single output value so the given data could be structured in a better manner.

Avoiding issues of multiple outputs

Many of the programming languages avoid using multiple return values due to their drawbacks. First, it is difficult to name those functions clearly that return multiple values. In addition, the order of these return values can also be mistaken. It is also difficult to group multiple return values as a single logical unit and to type them strongly. Thus, it is always a more organized option for programming languages to go for a single return value.

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Editor-in-Chief and lead author at WhyDo