A partial function is like a function, except that it does not need to give an output for every input. However, the outputs it does give must be unambiguous. One way to formalize this is by defining a partial function as a function from a restricted domain:
Note that, somewhat confusingly, not all partial functions are functions. However, we do consider a (total) function to be a partial function. We use this terminology because it is standard in mathematics and because it simplifies proofs (so that we don't have to say "a partial or total function" in places where the same argument works for both).