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## Recursion

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**Recursion**Chapter 7**Chapter Objectives**• To understand how to think recursively • To learn how to trace a recursive function • To learn how to write recursive algorithms and functions for searching vectors • To understand how to use recursion to solve the Towers of Hanoi problem • To understand how to use recursion to process two-dimensional images • To learn how to apply backtracking to solve search problems such as finding a path through a maze**Recursion**• Recursion can solve many programming problems that are difficult to conceptualize and solve linearly • In the field of artificial intelligence, recursion often is used to write programs that exhibit intelligent behavior: • playing games of chess • proving mathematical theorems • recognizing patterns, and so on • Recursive algorithms can • compute factorials • compute a greatest common divisor • process data structures (strings, vectors, linked lists, etc.) • search efficiently using a binary search • find a path through a maze, and more**Recursive Thinking**Section 7.1**Recursive Thinking**• Recursion is a problem-solving approach that can be used to generate simple solutions to certain kinds of problems that are difficult to solve by other means • Recursion reduces a problem into one or more simpler versions of itself**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**Recursive Algorithm to Process Nested Figures • if there is one figure in the nest • Do whatever is required to the figure else • Do whatever is required to the outer figure in the nest • Process the nest of figures inside the outer figure in the same way**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**• Consider searching for a target value in an vector • Assume the vector elements are sorted in increasing order • We compare the target to the middle element and, if the middle element does not match the target, search either the elements before the middle element or the elements after the middle element • Instead of searching n elements, we search n/2 elements**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**Recursive Algorithm to Search an vector • if the vector is empty • Return -1 as the search result else if the middle element matches the target • Return the subscript of the middle element as the result else if the target is less than the middle element • Recursively search the vector elements preceding the middle element and return the result else • Recursively search the vector elements following the middle element and return the result**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**General Recursive Algorithm • if the problem can be solved directly for the current value of n • Solve it else • Recursively apply the algorithm to one or more problems involving smaller values of n • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to get the solution to the original problem**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**General Recursive Algorithm • if the problem can be solved directly for the current value of n • Solve it else • Recursively apply the algorithm to one or more problems involving smaller values of n • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to get the solution to the original problem Step 1 involves a test for what is called the base case: the value of n for which the problem can be solved easily**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**General Recursive Algorithm • if the problem can be solved directly for the current value of n • Solve it else • Recursively apply the algorithm to one or more problems involving smaller values of n • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to get the solution to the original problem Step 3 is the recursive case, because there we recursively apply the algorithm**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**General Recursive Algorithm • if the problem can be solved directly for the current value of n • Solve it else • Recursively apply the algorithm to one or more problems involving smaller values of n • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to get the solution to the original problem Because the value of n for each recursive case is smaller than the original value of n, each recursive case makes progress towards a base case**Recursive Thinking (cont.)**General Recursive Algorithm • if the problem can be solved directly for the current value of n • Solve it else • Recursively apply the algorithm to one or more problems involving smaller values of n • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to get the solution to the original problem Whenever a split occurs, we revisit Step 1 for each new problem to see whether it is a base case or a recursive case**Steps to Design a Recursive Algorithm**• Summary of characteristics: • There must be at least one case (the base case), typically for a small value of n, that can be solved directly • A problem of a given size n can be reduced to one or more smaller versions of the same problem (the recursive case) • Design: • Recognize a base case and provide a solution to it • Devise a strategy to split the problem into smaller versions of itself while making progress toward a base case • Combine the solutions to the smaller problems to solve the larger problem**Recursive Algorithm for Finding the Length of a String**• if the string is empty (has no characters) • The length is 0 else • The length is 1 plus the length of the string that excludes the first character**Recursive Algorithm for Finding the Length of a String**(cont.) /** Recursive function size @paramstrThe string @return The length of the string */ int size(string str) { if (str == "") return 0; else return 1 + size(str.substr(1)); }**Recursive Algorithm for Printing String Characters**/** Recursive function print_chars post: The argument string is displayed, one character per line @paramstrThe string */ void print_chars(string str) { if (str == "") { return; } else { cout << str.at(0) << endl; print_chars(str.substr(1)); } }**Recursive Algorithm for Printing String Characters in**Reverse Order /** Recursive functionprint_chars_reverse post: The argument string is displayed in reverse order, one character per line @paramstrThe string */ void print_chars_reverse(string str) { if (str == "") { return; } else { print_chars_reverse(str.substr(1)); cout << str.at(0) << endl; } }**Proving that a Recursive function is Correct**• Proof by induction • Prove the theorem is true for a base case of (usually) n = 0 or n = 1 • Show that if the theorem is assumed true for n, then it must be true for n+1 • Recursive proof is similar to induction • Verify a base case is recognized and solved correctly • Verify that each recursive case makes progress towards abase case; that is, any new problems generated are smaller versions of the original problem. • Verify that if all smaller problems are solved correctly, then the original problem also is solved correctly**Tracing a Recursive function**• The process of returning from recursive calls and computing the partial results is called unwinding the recursion**The Stack and Activation Frames**• C++ maintains a stack on which it saves new information in the form of an activation frame • The activation frame contains storage for • function arguments • local variables (if any) • the return address of the instruction that called the function • Whenever a new function is called (recursive or otherwise), C++ pushes a new activation frame onto the stack**Analogy for the Run-Time Stack for Recursive Calls**• An office tower has an employee on each level each with the same list of instructions • The employee on the bottom level carries out part of the instructions, calls the employee on the next level up and is put on hold • The employee on the next level completes part of the instructions and calls the employee on the next level up and is put on hold • The employee on the next level completes part of the instructions and calls the employee on the next level up and is put on hold • The employee on the next level completes part of the instructions and calls the employee on the next level up and is put on hold, an so on until the top level is reached**Analogy for the Run-Time Stack for Recursive Calls (cont.)**• When the employee on the top level finishes the instructions, that employee returns an answer to the employee below • The employee below resumes, and when finished, returns an answer to the employee below • The employee below resumes, and when finished, returns an answer to the employee below • The employee below resumes, and when finished, returns an answer to the employee below, and so on • Eventually the bottom is reached, and all instructions are executed**Recursive Definitions of Mathematical Formulas**Section 7.2**Recursive Definitions of Mathematical Formulas**• Mathematicians often use recursive definitions of formulas that lead naturally to recursive algorithms • Examples include: • factorials • powers • greatest common divisors (gcd)**Factorial of n: n! (cont.)**• The recursive definition can be expressed by the following algorithm: ifn equals 0 n! is 1 else n! = n x (n – 1)! • The last step can be implemented as: return n * factorial(n – 1);**Factorial of n: n! (cont.)**int factorial(int n) { if (n == 0) return 1; else return n * factorial(n – 1); }**Infinite Recursion and Stack Overflow**• If you call function factorialwith a negative argument, the recursion will not terminate properly because n will never equal 0 • Make sure your recursive functions are constructed so that an appropriate stopping case is always reached • In the factorial function, you could throw an invalid_argument exception if n is negative • If your program does not terminate properly, you will eventually get a run-time error when there is no more memory available for your program to execute more function calls**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating xn(cont.)**/** Recursive power function @param x The number being raised to a power @param n The exponent @return x raised to the power n */ double power(double x, int n) { if (n == 0) return 1; else if (n > 0) return x * power(x, n – 1); else return 1.0 / power(x, -n); }**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating gcd**• The greatest common divisor (gcd) of two numbers is the largest integer that divides both numbers • The gcd of 20 and 15 is 5 • The gcd of 36 and 24 is 12 • The gcd of 38 and 18 is 2 • The gcd of 17 and 97 is 1**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating gcd (cont.)**• Given two positive integers m and n (m > n) if n is a divisor of m gcd(m, n) = n else gcd (m, n) = gcd (n, m % n)**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating gcd (cont.)**• Given two positive integers m and n (m > n) • ifn is a divisor of m • The result is n else • The result is gcd (n, m % n)**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating gcd (cont.)**• How do we verify that our algorithm is correct? • Base case correct? • The base case is “n is a divisor of m” • The solution is n (n is the greatest common divisor), which is correct • Does recursion make progress to base case? • Both arguments in each recursive call are smaller than in the previous call and • The new second argument is always smaller than the new first argument (m % n must be less than n) • Eventually a divisor will be found or the second argument will become 1 (which is a base case because it divides every integer)**Recursive Algorithm for Calculating gcd (cont.)**/** Recursive gcd function pre: m > 0 and n > 0 @param m The larger number @param n The smaller number @return Greatest common divisor of m and n */ intgcd(int m, int n) { if (m % n == 0) return n; else if (m < n) return gcd(n, m); // Transpose arguments else return gcd(n, m % n); }**Recursion Versus Iteration**• There are similarities between recursion and iteration • In iteration, a loop repetition condition determines whether to repeat the loop body or exit from the loop • In recursion, the condition usually tests for a base case • You can always write an iterative solution to a problem that is solvable by recursion • A recursive algorithm may be simpler than an iterative algorithm and thus easier to write, code, debug, and read**Tail Recursion or Last-Line Recursion**• Most of the recursive algorithms and functions you have seen so far are examples of tail recursion or last-line recursion • In these algorithms, there is a single recursive call and it is the last line of the function, such as in the factorial function: int factorial(int n) { if (n == 0) return 1; else return n * factorial(n – 1); } • It is a straightforward process to turn such a function into an iterative one**Iterative factorial function**/** Iterative factorial function. pre: n >= 0 @param n The integer whose factorial is being computed @return n! */ intfactorial_iter(int n) { int result = 1; for (int k = 1; k <= n; k++) result = result * k; return result; }**Efficiency of Recursion**• Comparing our two factorial algorithms, the iterative function may be slightly less readable than the recursive function, but not much • In terms of efficiency, both algorithms are O(n), because the number of loop repetitions or recursive calls increases linearly with n • The iterative version is probably faster (but not significantly), because the overhead for a function call and return would be greater than the overhead for loop repetition (testing and incrementing the loop control variable) • Generally, if it is easier to conceptualize an algorithm using recursion, then you should code it as a recursive function, because the reduction in efficiency does not outweigh the advantage of readable code that is easy to debug**Efficiency of Recursion (cont.)**• Memory usage • A recursive version can require significantly more memory that an iterative version because of the need to save local variables and parameters on a stack • The next example illustrates a simple recursive solution that is very inefficient in terms of time and memory utilization**Fibonacci Numbers**• Fibonacci numbers are a sequence of numbers that were invented to model the growth of a rabbit colony fib1 = 1 fib2 = 1 fibn = fibn-1 + fibn-2 • 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, …**Fibonacci Numbers (cont.)**/** Recursive function to calculate Fibonacci numbers pre: n >= 1. @param n The position of the Fibonacci number being calculated @return The Fibonacci number */ intfibonacci(int n) { if (n <= 2) return 1; else return fibonacci(n – 1) + fibonacci(n – 2); }**Fibonacci Numbers (cont.)**Inefficient**An O(n) Recursive fibonacci function**/** Recursive O(n) function to calculate Fibonacci numbers pre: n >= 1 @paramfib_currentThe current Fibonacci number @paramfib_previousThe previous Fibonacci number @param n The count of Fibonacci numbers left to calculate @return The value of the Fibonacci number calculated so far */ intfibo(intfib_current, intfib_previous, int n) { if (n == 1) return fib_current; else return fibo(fib_current + fib_previous, fib_current, n – 1); }**An O(n) Recursive fibonacci function (cont.)**• In order to start the function executing, we provide a non-recursive wrapper function: /** Wrapper function for calculating Fibonacci numbers pre: n >= 1 @param n The position of the desired Fibonacci number @return The value of the nth Fibonacci number */ intfibonacci_start(int n) { return fibo(1, 0, n); }