Higher-order function

Using the higher-order function is very convenient in JavaScript.

Function as parameter

Supposing we want to sort an array, using the familiar sort.

[1,3,2,5,4].sort( (x, y) => x - y )

If we want to sort the array in descending order, we just pass (x, y) => y - x simply. If there is an array containing Objects, and we want to sort by Object.id, we may write as following:

[{id:1, name:'one'},
 {id:3, name:'three'},
 {id:2, name:'two'},
 {id:5, name:'five'},
 {id:4, name:'four'}].sort((x,y) => x.id - y.id)

Have you feel the flexibility when composing higher-order function and anonymous function?

Return function as value

The return value of a function can not just be a value, but also can be a function. Let's look at the aliasFor, an utility function in Eweda, which is used to give an alias for certain member in function E.

Does this sound wired? How can a function contain a member? The function in JavaScript, in fact, is a special Object. Try typing console.log. in Firefox console, have you noticed some members in Intellisense, however, typeof console.log indicates console.log is just a function.

var E = () => {}
var aliasFor = oldName => {
    var fn = newName => {
      E[newName] = E[oldName];
      return fn;
    return (fn.is = fn.are = fn.and = fn);

There are two returns, the first one is that fn returns itself, the another is that aliasFor also returns fn and gives fn a few of alias like fn.is, fn.are ...

What is the meaning of returning fn it self? Returning fn from fn simply means fn() => fn, which means fn()() => fn() => fn, etc. No matter how many time the fn is invoked, the final return value is still fn.


Why we doing this? We can make E[newName] = E[oldName] by using the side affect of invoking fn. So that each invocation of fn will give an alias name to E. The second return assigns some alias names for fn itself, so it became more readable by chaining the function:


We will explain more about how importance of returning function as a value, Currying, and closure in later chapters. Let's look at typical application of passing function to a higher-order function.