Ryan Franz Ryan Franz - 6 months ago 18
Python Question

Is there a way to have a mathematical function as the argument of a function in Python 3?

Sorry if this is a easy question, or if it has already been answered, but I'm new to programming and I couldn't find a helpful answer to this question (maybe I don't know some terms that would've helped my search).

How can I include a mathematical function as an argument of a function in python?

In my particular case, I'm writing a Riemann sum calculator that would ideally look like:

def riemann_sum(func_x, minvalue, maxvalue, partitions)
return riemannSum

where func_x is some function of x so that I could find the riemann sum of any arbitrary function this:

func_x = x**2
minvalue = 1
maxvalue = 2
partitions = 100
a = riemann_sum(func_x,minvalue,maxvalue,partitions)

However, I can't do the above procedure because x is undefined.

I can get the Riemann sum for particular functions of x by manually typing it in to a line of my function that looks like:

someList = [x**2 for x in someOtherList]

Here, the function is x**2, but I can't change it without physically going in and changing the function.

My only solution right now is to define a new Riemann sum function every time I want to find the definite integral of a new function... which works but I feel like there's a better way.

(Edit: My question is different from the Riemann sum question marked as a possible duplicate. Their question is about an implementation specifically for a Riemann sum. My question is about how to incorporate a math function as the argument of a function, and I happen to use Riemann sum as a particular example)


In Python functions are first class objects so you can, for example, pass functions as arguments to other functions. That is, the way you wrote your riemann_sum function declaration is fine.

What doesn't work is your definition of func_x, since you need to define func_x as a function. For that you can either do:

func_x = lambda x: x**2

or, for a more general multiline (or single line) function

def func_x(x):
    temp = x**2  # just to stretch this out to another line for demonstration
    return temp

Then you can say something like:

def riemann_sum(func_x, minvalue, maxvalue, partitions):
    # below just demos calling func_x, and is a bad way to do the sum
    riemannSum = 0
    step = 1.0*(maxvalue-minvalue)/partitions
    value = minvalue
    while value<maxvalue:
        riemannSum == step*func_x(value)  # here's where func_x is called
    return riemannSum

That is, the main point here is that is demonstrates how to call func_x within the riemann_sum function. This allows you to evaluate func_x at different x-values, as required to evaluate the sum.