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I don't know if Jack Altiere is right when he says many programmers are afraid of recursion, but if it's true I expect they fall into two categories:

1. Those who have not learned what recursion is yet.
2. Those who have learned that it is often better not to use it.

Jack's short introduction is probably good for those in category one, but if you want to ever consider yourself an experienced programmer you should be trying to get into category two. This article is intended to help you get to category two as quickly as possible.

Some simple recursion

Recursive functions are easy. The only thing that you have to do to write a recursive function is to have it call itself. That's pretty easy and you may think that there isn't much reason to use it, but it can be very powerful. It turns out that there are all sorts of things that we might want to do that are easier to think of in terms of recursion. We won't go into all of them here, but if you look through your code you'll probably find that you have plenty of examples of them.

We're going to study a mathematical function that can be handled in all sorts of interesting ways - integer power calculations. I'm going to use Javascript (even though it wouldn't normally be my first choice for this sort of testing) because more people are likely to be able to run the tests themselves if I do so.



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