recursion

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English[edit]

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A recursive shape
Examples

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

Etymology[edit]

From Latin recursiō (the act of running back or again, return), from recurrō (run back; return), from re- (back, again) + currō (run).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

recursion (plural recursions)

  1. The act of recurring.
  2. (mathematics) The act of defining an object (usually a function) in terms of that object itself.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 128:
      However, we have still not achieved our goal of devising a finite set of rules
      which will generate an infinite set of sentence structures. In order to achieve
      this goal, we need to allow for the fact that natural languages typically have
      the property that they allow potentially infinite recursion of particular struc-
      tures. For example, one Clause can be embedded inside another indefinitely
      many times, [...]
    n! = n × (n − 1)! (for n > 0) or 1 (for n = 0) defines the factorial function using recursion.
  3. (computing) The calling of a function from within that same function.
    This function uses recursion to compute factorials.

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Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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