Recursive Function

What Does Recursive Function Mean?

A recursive function is a function in code that refers to itself for execution. Recursive functions can be simple or elaborate. They allow for more efficient code writing, for instance, in the listing or compiling of sets of numbers, strings or other variables through a single reiterated process.


Techopedia Explains Recursive Function

Recursive functions in code often rely on loop setups, where the initial variable is called on multiple times while being altered by the loop. Simple examples of a recursive function include the factorial, where an integer is multiplied by itself while being incrementally lowered. Many other self-referencing functions in a loop could be called recursive functions, for example, where n = n + 1 given an operating range.

In addition to simpler recursive functions, programmers and others have come up with much more elaborate functions that also work through principles of recursion. Some, like the Fibonacci sequence, have applications to finance and other areas, where others remain esoteric and largely exclusive to the IT community.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.