(logic, maths) the application of a function to its own values to generate an infinite sequence of values. The recursion formula or clause of a definition specifies the progression from one term to the next, as given the base clause f(0) = 0, f(n + 1) = f(n) + 3 specifies the successive terms of the sequence f(n) = 3n
1610s, from Latin recursionem (nominative recursio) "a running backward, return," noun of action from past participle stem of recurrere "run back" (see recur).
mathematics, programming When a function (or procedure) calls itself. Such a function is called "recursive". If the call is via one or more other functions then this group of functions are called "mutually recursive". If a function will always call itself, however it is called, then it will never terminate. Usually however, it first performs some test on its arguments to check for a "base case" - a condition under which it can return a value without calling itself. The canonical example of a recursive function is factorial: factorial 0 = 1 factorial n = n * factorial (n-1) Functional programming languages rely heavily on recursion, using it where a procedural language would use iteration. See also recursion, recursive definition, tail recursion. [Jargon File] (1996-05-11)