Recursions: recursive vs iterative

“When a function calls itself, recursion happens.”

Iteration and recursion are frequently used in conjunction with loops, yet they are extremely distinct from one another. The objective of recursion and iteration is to repeatedly execute a statement until a particular condition is met. When an iterative loop reaches the end of its sequence, it stops executing; for instance, if we are traversing a list, the loop will terminate when we reach the end of the list. Recursion, however, prevents the function from ending when a base condition is met. Let’s get a thorough understanding of them both.


A recursive function has two crucial and important components. The base case is the first, while the recursive case is the second. A conditional statement is written in the base case, and the program runs it at the very end, right before returning values to the users. The formula or logic that the function is based upon is written in the recursive case. In order to move closer to its basic case or base condition, a recursive function ends. The same is true of recursion: if the base case is not fulfilled in the call, the function will execute repeatedly, resulting in a system crash, just as it is possible for loops to run indefinitely if the condition is not satisfied.

Each recursive call is saved in a stack in the case of recursion until it hits the base condition, at which point the stack will sequentially return each call, printing a series of numbers onto the screen. It is important to remember that the stack is a LIFO (last in, first out) data structure. This implies that the call that is entered into the stack last will be executed first, followed by the call that is inserted into the stack first.


Depending on a user-defined criteria, iteration repeatedly runs a block of code. Iterations can accomplish many of the same tasks that recursion does, but not all of them, and vice versa.

The difference between recursion and iteration is that recursion can only be used with functions, whereas iteration can be used to any amount of lines of code. Recursion requires less coding work than iteration does. In the event of recursion, backtracking or reverse engineering can be challenging. Recursion causes the system to repeat a few times and then crash if the condition is not met, whereas iteration causes the system to operate indefinitely. Recursion requires less coding to implement, but because the function must be called again and data must be stored on the stack, execution time is still longer even though less coding is required.

Shubhajna Rai
Shubhajna Rai

A Civil Engineering Graduate interested to share valuable information with the aspirants.

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