Advantages And Disadvantages Of Recursion | What is a Recursion?, Types, Characteristics

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Recursion: Recursion can be simply defined as the programming technique that uses the algorithm which calls itself one or more times till a specific condition is met. We can call it the concept of self-reference. It is determined as the succession of an element by operating on one or more preceding elements as per their rules and formula. It is also a method of solving computation problems in which the solution depends on the solution of a smaller instance of the same problem. It solves that problem by using functions that they call their code.

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What is a Recursion? Advantages and Disadvantages of Recursion

Recursion is the process that defines the problem by itself. It is one of the most powerful tools for writing algorithms. Recursion can be applied to many types of problems. We can represent recursion as the central idea of computer science. Many programming languages support recursion as they allow to call the function itself within their own code. Now let’s learn about the types of recursion. We will learn about the different types of recursion in the C programming language:

Types of Recursion

There are 5 types of recursion. Let’s discuss one by one,

  1. Direct Recursion: Direct recursion is the recursion in which a function calls itself to solve any problem within the same function repeatedly. As per the structure, the outer function recursively calls the inner function. This type of recursion is represented as direct recursion.
  2. Indirect Recursion: In this type of recursion, the function is mutually called by another function circularly, though it doesn’t solve the problem directly that’s why it is called indirect recursion. In it’s structure there are four functions indicated as fun1(), fun2(), fun3(), fun4(). In this if fun1() deals with a problem it calls fun2(), if fun2() faces any problem it calls fun3() and if fun3() faces any problem, it calls fun4 like this they call each other indirectly.
  3. Tail Recursion: In this type of recursion, the function makes a recursive calling itself which is the last statement executed by the function. After this process, there is no function left to call the recursive function.
  4. Non-Tail / Head Recursion: We can call a function non-tail or Head Recursion if its function makes a recursive call itself, this will be the first statement in the function. This indicates that there shouldn’t be any statement or operation called before the recursive calls. At the time of recursive calling, the head recursive doesn’t perform any operation
  5. Linear Recursion: If the function makes a single call to itself whenever the function grows linearly in proportion to the size of the problem then that function is called linear recursion.
  6. Tree Recursion: If the function makes more than one call to itself within the recursive function then it is called Tree Recursion.

Characteristics of Recursion

As we have mentioned above how recursion solves problems and their different types. Most of the time use of recursion is based on the nature of the problem and recursion is the function of the solution to that problem. Now let’s go more into detail about the topic and learn about its characteristics.

  • Recursion should have the characteristic of decomposing the original problem into a simpler solution to the same problem.
  • Recursion should have at least one base criteria so that when the condition meets, the function stop calling itself recursively.
  • As recursion solves a large number of complex problems into an easy one, then that easy problem should be made simpler so that it can be solved without further subdivision.

Advantages of Recursion

  1. It makes code easier to write: When we were talking about the advantages of recursion. Its most beneficial point is that it makes code easier. With the help of functions of recursion now codes were easier to write.
  2. Solves naturally recursive problems: As recursion breaks the more difficult problem into less complex steps and comes up with an easy solution i. e it comes up with the easier version of its solution, in this way it solves the naturally recursive problems.
  3. Reduce time complexity: It’s been observed since the time that recursion sometimes increases the time it took for a function to complete the task. Let’s take the example of Fibonacci numbers. If we calculate the Fibonacci number with the help of recursion then the time taken must be greater, If you memorize the result then you can reduce the time complexity.
  4. Better at tree traversal: We were connecting recursion from the tree because we see a tree is a collective object, its leaves were connected. If you want to transverse that tree while looking for a specific tree then you will recursive follow the single branch until you find the value you are looking for. Though the process is easy to find what you are looking for. In the same way, recursion also do, it is even better than tree transversal.

Disadvantages of Recursion

  • More use of Memory: As in the process of recursion, the function has to call itself, each other, and add to the stack in each recursive call and they keep their value there until the call is finished. In this process, recursion uses lots of memories.
  • Recursion can be slow: If it is not implemented properly then it is a very slow process. And it is a very difficult task to write a recursive function with much less speed and low memory. The reason behind its being slow is that it requires the allocation of a new stack frame.
  • Difficult to analyze code: Recursion is the process of converting a complex problem into less complex but analyzing code is also a complex part. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand code.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Recursion

Comparison Table for Advantages and Disadvantages of a Recursion

Advantages Disadvantages 
Solve problem which is naturally recursive.Slower than nonrecursive function
Reduce unnecessary calling of functionRequires lots of memory
Reduce the length of codeNot more effective in terms of space and time
Help in solving data structure problemsHard to analyze code
Stack evolution and infixComputer runs out of memory if recursive calls are not properly checked.

FAQ’s on Advantages And Disadvantages Of Recursion

Question 1.
What do you understand by recursion?

Recursion is the programming technique that uses the algorithm of calling itself to meet a specific condition.

Question 2.
How does it solve many complex problems?

Recursion converts the most complex problems into less complex ones. It takes the problem from high intensity to smaller intensity in a way that it solves a naturally recursive problem.

Question 3.
Differentiate between Recursion and iteration?

When the function calls itself within its code, though repeatedly executing the instruction represent inside it. While in the iteration loop repeatedly execute the set of instructions.

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