5.12. One more exampleΒΆ

In the previous example I used temporary variables to spell out the steps, and to make the code easier to debug, but I could have saved a few lines:

This program uses recursion to calculate the factorial of the passed argument. It is the condensed version of the example on the previous page.

From now on I will tend to use the more concise version, but I recommend that you use the more explicit version while you are developing code. When you have it working, you can tighten it up, if you are feeling inspired.

After factorial, the classic example of a recursively-defined mathematical function is fibonacci, which has the following definition:

\[\begin{split}\begin{aligned} && fibonacci(0) = 1 \\ && fibonacci(1) = 1 \\ && fibonacci(n) = fibonacci(n-1) + fibonacci(n-2);\end{aligned}\end{split}\]

Translated into C++, this is

This program uses recursion to calculate the nth number in the fibonacci sequence.

If you try to follow the flow of execution here, even for fairly small values of n, your head explodes. But according to the leap of faith, if we assume that the two recursive calls (yes, you can make two recursive calls) work correctly, then it is clear that we get the right result by adding them together.

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