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Section 16.7 Glossary

Glossary Glossary

base case.
A branch of the conditional statement in a recursive function that does not give rise to further recursive calls.
data structure.
An organization of data for the purpose of making it easier to use.
immutable data type.
A data type which cannot be modified. Assignments to elements or slices of immutable types cause a runtime error.
infinite recursion.
A function that calls itself recursively without ever reaching the base case. Eventually, an infinite recursion causes a runtime error.
mutable data type.
A data type which can be modified. All mutable types are compound types. Lists and dictionaries (see next chapter) are mutable data types; strings and tuples are not.
The process of calling the function that is already executing.
recursive call.
The statement that calls an already executing function. Recursion can even be indirect — function f can call g which calls h, and h could make a call back to f.
recursive definition.
A definition which defines something in terms of itself. To be useful it must include base cases which are not recursive. In this way it differs from a circular definition. Recursive definitions often provide an elegant way to express complex data structures.
A data type that contains a sequence of elements of any type, like a list, but is immutable. Tuples can be used wherever an immutable type is required, such as a key in a dictionary (see next chapter).
tuple assignment.
An assignment to all of the elements in a tuple using a single assignment statement. Tuple assignment occurs in parallel rather than in sequence, making it useful for swapping values.
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