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Recursion in JavaScript

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Recursion in JavaScript


Recursion is a powerful concept that allows a function to call itself as a part of its execution. In JavaScript, recursion finds its applications in various scenarios, from traversing data structures to solving mathematical problems. In this blog, we’ll embark on a journey to understand the magic of recursion in the context of JavaScript.

Understanding Recursion

Imagine you’re standing in front of a hall of mirrors. As you look into one mirror, you see a reflection of yourself, and within that reflection, you notice another mirror reflecting the first reflection, and so on. Recursion works similarly— a function calls itself to solve a smaller version of the same problem until it reaches a base case where the problem becomes trivial to solve.

Anatomy of a Recursive Function

A recursive function consists of two essential components:

1. Base Case: This is the simplest scenario where the function doesn’t call itself and directly returns a value. It acts as the termination point of the recursion.

2. Recursive Case: In this part, the function breaks down the problem into smaller sub-problems and calls itself to solve them. The idea is that each recursive call solves a slightly simpler version of the problem.


Let’s dive into a classic example of recursion by calculating the factorial of a number. The factorial of a positive integer n is denoted by n! and is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n.

function factorial(n) {
  // Base case
  if (n === 0 || n === 1) {
    return 1;
  } else {
    // Recursive case
    return n * factorial(n - 1);

console.log(factorial(5)); // Output: 120

In this example, when factorial(5) is called, the function breaks it down into 5 * factorial(4), then 4 * factorial(3), and so on, until it reaches the base case of factorial(1).

When to Use Recursion

Recursion is a powerful technique for solving problems that exhibit repetitive structures. It’s commonly used in algorithms involving trees, graphs, and other recursive data structures. It’s essential to consider factors like performance and readability.

Pros and Cons of Recursion


  • Elegant and concise solution for certain problems.
  • Can simplify code by breaking down complex problems.


  • Can be less efficient in terms of memory usage and performance compared to iterative solutions.
  • Harder to debug due to multiple function calls on the stack.
  • Risk of infinite recursion if the base case is not properly defined.


Recursion is a captivating concept that adds a layer of elegance and depth to your programming skills. By understanding the underlying principles and applying them thoughtfully, you can harness the power of recursion to solve a wide range of problems. Happy coding!

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Aanchal Agarwal is a Software Consultant at NashTech. Her practice area is web development. She is recognized as a multi-talented, multitasker, and adaptive to the different work environments. Her hobbies include watching movies, listening to music, and traveling. She likes to read books and explore new things.

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