# 3.7: Parameters and arguments

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Some of the functions we have seen require arguments. For example, when you call math.sin you pass a number as an argument. Some functions take more than one argument: math.pow takes two, the base and the exponent.

Inside the function, the arguments are assigned to variables called parameters. Here is a definition for a function that takes an argument:

def print_twice(bruce):
print(bruce)
print(bruce)


This function assigns the argument to a parameter named bruce. When the function is called, it prints the value of the parameter (whatever it is) twice.

This function works with any value that can be printed.

>>> print_twice('Spam')
Spam
Spam
>>> print_twice(42)
42
42
>>> print_twice(math.pi)
3.14159265359
3.14159265359


The same rules of composition that apply to built-in functions also apply to programmer-defined functions, so we can use any kind of expression as an argument for print_twice:

>>> print_twice('Spam '*4)
Spam Spam Spam Spam
Spam Spam Spam Spam
>>> print_twice(math.cos(math.pi))
-1.0
-1.0


The argument is evaluated before the function is called, so in the examples the expressions 'Spam '*4 and math.cos(math.pi) are only evaluated once.

You can also use a variable as an argument:

>>> michael = 'Eric, the half a bee.'
>>> print_twice(michael)
Eric, the half a bee.
Eric, the half a bee.


The name of the variable we pass as an argument (michael) has nothing to do with the name of the parameter (bruce). It doesn’t matter what the value was called back home (in the caller); here in print_twice, we call everybody bruce.

This page titled 3.7: Parameters and arguments is shared under a CC BY-NC 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Allen B. Downey (Green Tea Press) .