
What is Recursion?
Recursion occurs when a function calls itself.
Why is Recursion useful?You may have a problem that requires a typical operation to act on a piece of data a number of times. Most recursive functions can be converted into an iterative function (loops), but recursion is usually a more simple approach. You shall see how recursion can be used below. Contents of main.cpp : #include <iostream> #include <stdlib.h> using namespace std;
Our first recursive function calculates the factorial of a number. A factorial of a
number N is calculated as follows :
int factorial(int num) { Below we provide our stopping condition. We carry on multiplying the current number by the previous value  1 and eventually the value passed onto the function will be 1. We therefore return 1 as this is what the previously calculated value should be multiplied by in the last step. if (num == 1) return 1; The line below is what makes this function a recursive one. We take the value passed onto the function and multiply it by the same value  1. To make this clearer, we can look at how 3! is calculated.
We can see that factorial(1) returns 1 and factorial(2) returns
2 * factorial(1). return num * factorial(num  1);
}
Another example of recursion is given below where the power of a number is calculated eg. 2 to the power of 3 is 8. The function takes as its first parameter, the base number and the second parameter is the exponent. int power(int base, int index) { Our stopping condition is similar to the factorial function above. if (!index) return 1;
Our recursive call is shown below. The base is multiplied by the power of the same base
to the same exponent  1 eg.
return base * power(base, index  1);
}
The functions are tested below. 5! = 120 2^8 = 256 int main() { cout << factorial(5) << endl; cout << power(2, 8) << endl; system("pause"); return 0; } Well done. You should now have an understanding of what recursion is and how it works. Remember not to let your function recurse too much as each time you call the function, new variables are pushed onto the stack. If you run out of space on the stack, your program will crash. Recursion can often make complex problems easily solvable. Please let me know of any comments you may have : Contact Me
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