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Research Assistant @ Purdue University
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The process in which a function calls itself directly or indirectly is called recursion and the corresponding function is called as recursive function.

  • Base Condition: In a recursive problem, solution to the base case is provided and solution to bigger problem is expressed in terms of smaller problems.
  • Stack Overflow: In a recursion if the base condition is not reached and the function call stack reaches its limit, a stack overflow error is thrown.
  • Direct vs Indirect Recursion: A function is direct recursive if it calls the same function, but a indirect recursive function calls a different method which inturn calls the original function.
  • Tail Recursion: If the recursive call is the last thing executed by the function.
  • Disadvantage: Greater space requirements and additional overhead for function calls and return values.

Divide and Conquer Approach

The divide and conquer paradigm involves three steps:

  • Divide: Divide a problem into a number of smaller subproblems.
  • Conquer: Solve the subproblems recursively.
  • Combine: Combine solution to subproblems to get the solution of original problem.

For example merge sort is based on divide and conquer paradigm. It follows the following steps:

  • Divide array of size n to be sorted into two of size n/2.
  • Sort the sub-arrays recursively.
  • Combine the two sorted sub-arrays to get the sorted array.

Base case is when the sub-array has only a single element and is trivially sorted.

Auxiliary procedure Merge(A, p, q, r) where A is the array and p, q and r are indices into the array such that p <= q <= r.

Merge procedure assumes that the sequence A[p .. q] and A[q+1 .. r] are in sorted order and return A[p .. r] in sorted order.

Time Complexity of the Merge(A, p, q, r) procedure is O(n).


Introduction to Algorithms 3rd Edition - Chapter 2
Recursion - GeeksforGeeks

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