If R is a finite commutative ring then, unless R is a field,
not every function on R can be represented by a polynomial
with coefficients in R. We investigate how many functions
on R are induced by polynomials in R[x]. In some cases, we
can determine the structure of the semi-group of polynomial
functions (with respect to composition) on R and of the
group of permutations induced by polynomials.
If the finite ring is a residue class ring of a Dedekind
domain, we can answer a question of Narkiewicz and
characterize those ideals I such that every function
on D/I is induced by a polynomial in Int(D) (i.e., a polynomial with coefficients in the quotient field of D
that maps D to itself), which preserves congruences mod I.
Another object of investigation are permutation polynomials
in several variables over a finite commutative ring. Here
we could classify the rings for which the two different
ways of defining the concept agree.