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Functional Programming Principles in Scala

About This Course

Functional programming is becoming increasingly widespread in industry. This trend is driven by the adoption of Scala as the main programming language for many applications. Scala fuses functional and object-oriented programming in a practical package. It interoperates seamlessly with both Java and Javascript. Scala is the implementation language of many important frameworks, including Apache Spark, Kafka, and Akka. It provides the core infrastructure for sites such as Twitter, Tumblr and also Coursera.

In this course you will discover the elements of the functional programming style and learn how to apply them usefully in your daily programming tasks. You will also develop a solid foundation for reasoning about functional programs, by touching upon proofs of invariants and the tracing of execution symbolically.

The course is hands on; most units introduce short programs that serve as illustrations of important concepts and invite you to play with them, modifying and improving them. The course is complemented by a series programming projects as homework assignments.

Learning Outcomes. By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • understand the principles of functional programming,
  • write purely functional programs, using recursion, pattern matching, and higher-order functions,
  • combine functional programming with objects and classes,
  • design immutable data structures,
  • reason about properties of functions,
  • understand generic types for functional programs


You should have at least one year programming experience. Proficiency with Java or C# is ideal, but experience with other languages such as C/C++, Python, Javascript or Ruby is also sufficient. You should have some familiarity using the command line.

Course Staff

Martin Odersky

Martin Odersky

Martin Odersky is a professor at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has been working on programming languages for most of his career. He first studied structured and object-oriented programming as a PhD student of Niklaus Wirth, then fell in love with functional programming while working as a post doc at IBM and Yale. When Java came out, he started to add functional programming constructs to the new platform. This led to Pizza and GJ and eventually to Java 5 with generics. During that time he also developed javac, the current reference compiler for Java.

Over the last 10 years, Martin worked on unifying object-oriented and functional programming in the Scala language. Scala quickly escaped from the research lab and became a popular open source tool and industrial language. He now oversees development of Scala as head of the programming group at EPFL and as chairman of the Lightbend company.

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