Objects and functions - friends or foes? Neither!

Programmers often view object-oriented and functional programming as two completely different paradigms. As a result, some developers advocate for one them, pointing out the advantages of their favorite paradigm and criticizing the “opposing” one. However, I have rarely seen anyone comparing OOP with functional programming instead of contrasting them.

Functional programming vs OOP
© educba.com

Let’s look at this piece of Kotlin code, which filters and then maps the elements of the given list:

val result = listOf("Adam", "Bob", "Boris")
    .filter { it.startsWith("B") }
    .map { it.length }

This is how the code above usually looks like in classic Java, one of the most popular OOP languages:

List<String> originalList = Arrays.asList("Adam", "Bob", "Boris");
List<String> filteredList = new ArrayList<>();
List<String> mappedList = new ArrayList<>();

for (String name : originalList) {
    if (name.startsWith("B")) {

for (String name : filteredList) {

Is there any way we could compare this code snippet with the initial one? I don’t think so. However, we can and should rather contrast it. This seems quite apparent, right? The reason for it is that this piece of Java code is not object-oriented, but imperative.

The object-oriented Java code should like this:

List<String> result = new ListOf<>(
    new Mapped<>(
      s -> s.length(),
      new Filtered<>(
          s -> s.startsWith("B"),
          new IterableOf<>("Adam", "Bob", "Boris")
// The "ListOf", "Mapped" and "Filtered" classes are from the
// "yegor256/cactoos" java lib

This solution is very similar to the initial functional one, although the paradigms are completely different, which brings us to the main point of the article - OOP and functional programming are two paradigms that solve the given problem in a declarative manner through a composition of smaller logical blocks. In other words, what functional and OOP are doing is the same (a composition of smaller logical blocks), but how they are doing it is different (OOP relies on objects, while functional programming relies on functions).

I believe that by reapproaching OOP with the idea of adding new functionality declaratively, incrementally and through a composition of small logical blocks, we can not only improve our code, but also to change the way we analyze the problems we encounter (from imperative to declarative). In addition, it can enable us to revisit the OOP patterns (such as the Decorator pattern demonstrated above) to see which of them apply to this concept and how.

The next time you use an OOP language to solve a problem, try to do it declaratively and incrementally, and then see if what you come up with can compare to the code snippets in this article.