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In Java, each piece of code is broken down into functions, which are individual routines that we can call in our code. Let’s review how to create functions in Java.

Functions in Flowcharts & Pseudocode

The table below lists the flowchart blocks used to represent functions, as well as the corresponding pseudocode:

Operation Flowchart Pseudocode
Declare Function Declare Function Flowchart Block Declare Function Flowchart Block
function FOO(X)
X = X + 5
return X
end function
Call Function Call Function Flowchart Block Call Function Flowchart Block
X = FOO(5)

Functions in Java

Declaring Functions

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In general, a function declaration in Java needs a few elements. Let’s start at the simplest case:

static void foo(){

Let’s break this example function declaration down to see how it works:

  1. First, we use the keyword static at the beginning of this function declaration. That keyword allows us to use this function without creating an object first. We’ll cover how to create and work with objects in a later module. For now, each function we create will need the static keyword in front of it, just like the main() function.
  2. Then, the second keyword, void, determines the type of data returned by the function. We use a special keyword void when the function does not return a value. We’ve already seen this keyword used in our declaration of the main function.
  3. Next, we have the name of the function, foo. We can name a function using any valid identifier in Java. In general, function names in Java always start with a lowercase letter.
  4. Following the function name, we see a set of parentheses () that list the parameters for this function. Since there is nothing included in this example, the function foo does not require any parameters.
  5. Finally, we see a set of curly braces {} that surround the code of the function itself. In this case, the function will simply print Foo to the terminal.
  6. The function ends with the return keyword. Since we aren’t returning a value, we aren’t required to include a return keyword in the function. However, it is helpful to know that we may use that keyword to exit the function at any time.

Once that function is created, we can call it using the following code:


Parameters and Return

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In a more complex case, we can declare a function that accepts parameters and returns a value, as in this example:

static int countLetters(String input, char letter){
    int output = 0;
    for(int i = 0; i < input.length(); i++){
        if(input.charAt(i) == letter){
    return output;

In this example, the function accepts two parameters: input, which is a string, and letter, which is a character. It also declares that it will return an int value.

We can use the parameters just like any other variable in our code. To return a value, we use the return keyword, followed by the value or variable containing the value we’d like to return.

To call a function that requires parameters, we can include values as arguments in the parentheses of the function call:

sum += countLetters("The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog", 'e');