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what exactly do you mean by functional approach? I mean if you mean just breaking code into different methods such that one method does one job then we can use Hashmap in that way also. But other than that are there any serious issues in using a Hashmap instead of char array as discussed in the editorial?
"Functional programming" doesn't mean breaking code into smaller methods. Functional programming is a pretty different way to think about software (compared to writing a list of instructions to be followed).
I did a little googling and came up with this: https://wiki.haskell.org/Functional_programming . Maybe that helps?
I don't have much experience with functional programming myself, but I did enjoy reading a cute little book called The Little Schemer: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/little-schemer . I haven't had a chance to read the rest of the series.