# Recursion

Recursion is a way of expressing loops with no mutable state, by defining a function in terms of itself. The classic example, the factorial function. Defined mathematically:

factorial :: Int -> Int
factorial 0 = 1
factorial n = n * factorial (n-1)


It can be seen how this function reduced when applied to a value:

factorial 2
=> 2 * factorial (2-1)
=> 2 * factorial 1
=> 2 * 1 * factorial (1-1)
=> 2 * 1 * factorial 0
=> 2 * 1 * 1
=> 2


Another classic example, the fibonacci function:

fib :: Int -> Int
fib 0 = 1
fib 1 = 1
fib n = fib (n-1) + fib (n-1)


In imperative languages, functions push frames onto the call stack every time a function is called. With no mutable state, this is not required so recursion is efficient and can be infinite.

Haskell automatically optimises recursive functions to make execution more efficient:

fac' :: Int -> Int -> Int
fac' 0 m = m
fac' n m = fac' (n-1) (n*m)


This version of the function prevents haskell from building up large expressions:

fac 500
=> fac' 500 1
=> fac' (500-1) (500*1)
=> fac' 499 500
=> fac (499-1) (499 * 500)
=> fac' 498 249500


Notice the pattern for all recursive functions, where there is a recursive case, defining the function in terms of itself, and a base case. Without a base case, the function would recurse infinitely. The cases are usually defined as pattern matches.

## Recursion on Lists

Recursion is the natural way to operate on lists in haskell. Defining the product function, which returns the product of all the items in the list:

product :: [Int] -> Int
product [] = 1
product (n:ns) = n * product ns


Here, the base case is the empty list [] and pattern match is used to "de-cons" the head off the list and operate on it (n:ns). The function reduces as follows:

product [1,2,3,4]
=> 1 * product [2,3,4]
=> 1 * 2 * product [3,4]
=> 1 * 2 * 3 * product 
=> 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * product []
=> 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 1
=> 24


## let and where

let and where clauses can be used to introduct local bindings within a function, which are useful in defining recursive functions. the splitAt function, which splits a list into two at a certain index.

splitAt :: Int -> [a] -> ([a],[a])
splitAt 0 xs = ([],xs)
splitAt n [] = ([],[])
splitAt n (x:xs) = (x:ys, zs)
where (ys,zs) = splitAt (n-1) xs
-- alternatively
splitAt n xs =
let
ys = take n xs
zs = drop n xs
in (ys,zs)


let and where can also define functions locally, as everything in haskell is a function.