Tail Recursion

What Does Tail Recursion Mean?

Tail recursion is the act of calling a recursive function at the end of a particular code module rather than in the middle. A function is recursive if it calls itself. This programming concept is often useful for self-referencing functions and plays a major role in programming languages such as LISP.


Techopedia Explains Tail Recursion

In computer programming, a function that calls itself, either directly or indirectly, is a recursive function. When this call happens at the end of the function, it is called tail recursion. Usually, other calculations or procedures are done before the recursive call.

A tail recursion usually occurs when a recursive function call is made, then ends, and has nothing else to do after having done the recursive call. The benefits of this approach include less burden of retaining a stack frame, as well as code readability. Programmers and designers sometimes use tail recursion in order to optimize code and maximize efficiency.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…