Home : Technical Terms : Recursive Function Definition

Recursive Function

A recursive function is a function that calls itself during its execution. The process may repeat several times, outputting the result and the end of each iteration.

The function Count() below uses recursion to count from any number between 1 and 9, to the number 10. For example, Count(1) would return 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Count(7) would return 8,9,10. The result could be used as a roundabout way to subtract the number from 10.

function Count (integer N)
    if (N <= 0) return "Must be a Positive Integer";
    if (N > 9) return "Counting Completed";
    else return Count (N+1);
end function

Recursive functions allow programmers to write efficient programs using a minimal amount of code. The downside is that they can cause infinite loops and other unexpected results if not written properly. For example, in the example above, the function is terminated if the number is 0 or less or greater than 9. If proper cases are not included in a recursive function to stop the execution, it will repeat forever, causing the program to crash or become unresponsive.

Updated: September 21, 2020

Cite this definition:

https://techterms.com/definition/recursive_function

TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of Recursive Function. It explains in computing terminology what Recursive Function means and is one of many technical terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Recursive Function definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.