# How Recursion works behind the scene in PHP

### Keramot UL Islam ・2 min read

Recursion is a programming technique where a function calls itself. Recursion is also a technique of “Making a loop in a functional way”.

Recursive functions have two parts. “Base case” and “The Recursive function”.

Recursion in computer science is a method of solving a problem where the solution depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem.

Wikipedia

Skeleton of a Recursive function:

```
function skeleton() {
// Base case
// Recursive function
}
```

Before we move forward, we need to know about **Factorial**.

It’s a mathematical term. The factorial of a positive integer *n*, denoted by *n!* and is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to *n*.

`n! = n * (n – 1) * (n – 2) * (n – 3) * ... .. * 3 * 2 * 1`

Example: `5! = 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1 = 120`

Here,

`5! = n!`

, `n = 5`

, `(n – 1) = 4`

, `(n – 2) = 3`

, ... ..

Here are a couple of things about factorial —

- Can’t be a negative number
- Factorial of 0 is equal to 1

## Full article with Diagram Click Here

Now let’s create a Recursive Function of Factorial —

```
function fact($n) {
// Base case
if ( $n === 0 ) {
return 1;
}
// recursive function
return $n * fact( $n - 1 );
}
echo fact(4); // 4 * 3 * 2 * 1 = 24
```

Now, you must be thinking, where is the loop? How it’s iterating and getting data?

When I’ve called `fact(4)`

it went into the function and got `fact(3)`

and then it went into `fact(3)`

and got `fact(2)`

... .. and so on. Finally, it went to `fact(0)`

and got 1 from the base case.

Then it started returning the value to `fact(1)`

, `fact(2)`

... .. and so on, that’s why finally `fact(4)`

got 6 from `fact(3)`

.

Unlike Python, PHP will let you recurse until you get a segmentation fault. So be careful :)

Notice that PHP doesn't do tail call optimization, so use it carefully.