Demystifying Python Recursion

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Most complex tasks in Python can be broken down into simpler subtasks. Recursion helps to achieve this, hence making the code clean and neat. This tutorial will introduce recursion, the benefits of recursion, and how to use it in Python programming.

What Is Recursion?

Recursion is a method of solving a problem with the solutions to smaller instances of the same problem. This approach can be applied to many types of challenges in programming.

The Benefits of Using Recursion

Some of the benefits of using recursion are:

  • Recursion adds simplicity when writing code, hence making it easier to debug.
  • Recursion reduces the amount of time taken by an algorithm to run as a function of the length of the input.
  • Recursion is also preferred when solving very complex problems, especially problems on tree-based structures, because it performs better.

Introduction to the Python Recursive Function

Although recursion seems like a complicated procedure, it’s not all that complicated. In layman’s terms, assume you have two rectangles A and B. If you add them together, they form a rectangle C. This is in itself a recursive procedure. We have used smaller instances of a rectangle to define itself, and if we were to write a Python function, it would be as follows:

def rectangle(a,b):
    return a+b

Read full tutorial at code.tutsplus