## DEV Community

Keramot UL Islam

Posted on • Originally published at blog.abmsourav.com

# How Recursion works behind the scene in PHP

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 —

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

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)`.

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ryan

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

Evgeniy • Edited

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