In computer science and mathematics, the word
idempotentis used to describe a process that can be repeated any number of times, always leading to the same, predictable outcome.
Is there a single word for the similar concept of “having no side effects”? A word to describe a process that can be repeated any number of times without ever changing the state of the world (or system) around it? If I were to fabricate such a word it would be something cumbersome like enviroimpotent.
Such a word would be extremely useful in situations like this question, where there are imprecise and confusing phrases like
A pure function is idempotent and has no side effects…but really it can’t have any effect on the state of the system, not just unintended…* continued babbling about semantics *
I imagine usage like
A pocket calculator’s arithmetic is ___; using it to estimate how much post-tax money you’ll have after winning the lottery will do nothing to improve your odds.
A voting booth should operate ____ly. A vote being cast for a candidate that results in that candidate being displayed higher for the next voter would be a severe flaw.
Is there a single word for the similar concept of “having no side
In computing, contrast with idempotent:
both refer to the potential result of performing an action on an
object multiple times, the difference being that an idempotent
action’s result would be the same as performing it one time, while the
nullipotent action’s result would be the same as performing it zero
In other words, a nullipotent action has no side effects – performing
it multiple times is the same as performing it zero times. An
idempotent action has no further side effects after the first time
performing it – performing it multiple times is the same as performing
it one time.
By the way, I discovered nullipotent while researching idempotent recently. I’m not sure if we have the same understanding of idempotent, but I think nullipotent may be the word you’re searching for.