Recursion in data structures

  • Recursion is one of the most powerful tools in a programming language, but one of the most threatening topics-as most of the beginners and not surprising to even experienced students feel.
  • When function is called within the same function, it is known as recursion in C. The function which calls the same function, is known as recursive function.
  • Recursion is defined as defining anything in terms of itself. Recursion is used to solve problems involving iterations, in reverse order.


Types of Recursion

There are two types of Recursion

  • Direct recursion
  • Indirect recursion

Direct Recursion

When in the body of a method there is a call to the same method, we say that the method is directly recursive.

There are three types of Direct Recursion

  • Linear Recursion
  • Binary Recursion
  • Multiple Recursion

Linear Recursion

  • Linear recursion begins by testing for a set of base cases there should be at least one.

In Linear recursion we follow as under :

  • Perform a single recursive call. This recursive step may involve a test that decides which of several possible recursive calls to make, but it should ultimately choose to make just one of these calls each time we perform this step.
  • Define each possible recursion call, so that it makes progress towards a base case.

​​​​​​​Binary Recursion

  • Binary recursion occurs whenever there are two recursive calls for each non base case.​​​​​​​

Multiple Recursion

  • In multiple recursion we make not just one or two but many recursive calls.


//C program for GCD using recursion
#include int 
Find_GCD(int, int);

void main() 
 int n1, n2, gcd;
 scanf(“%d %d”,&n1, &n2);
 gcd = Find_GCD(n1, &n2);
 printf(“GCD of %d and %d is %d”, n1, n2, gcd); 
int Find_GCD(int m, int n)
 int gcdVal;
   gcdVal = Find_GCD(n,m);
 else if(n==0)
​​​​​​​ { 
   gcdVal = m;
   gcdVal = Find_GCD(n, m%n);

Disadvantages of Recursion

  • It consumes more storage space the recursive calls along with automatic variables are stored on the stack.
  • The computer may run out of memory if the recursive calls are not checked.
  • It is not more efficient in terms of speed and execution time.
  • According to some computer professionals, recursion does not offer any concrete advantage over non-recursive procedures/functions.
  • Recursive solution is always logical and it is very difficult to trace.(debug and understand).
  • In recursive we must have an if statement somewhere to force the function to return without the recursive call being executed, otherwise the function will never return.
  • Recursion takes a lot of stack space, usually not considerable when the program is small and running on a PC.
  • Recursion uses more processor time.
  • Recursion is not advocated when the problem can be through iteration.
  • Recursion may be treated as a software tool to be applied carefully and selectively.

Difference between recursion and iteration

Iteration Recursion
In iteration,a problem is converted into a train of steps that are finished one at a time, one after another Recursion is like piling all of those steps on top of each other and then quashing the mall into the solution.
With iteration,each step clearly leads on to the next, like stepping stones across a river In recursion, each step replicates itself at a smaller scale, so that all of them combined together eventually solve the problem.
Any iterative problem is solved recursively Not all recursive problem can solved by iteration
It does not use Stack It uses Stack