Data Structure & Algorithm in Java

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Nested and Excessive Recursion

Highlighting the explanation of Nested and Excessive Recursion:

  • In nested recursion, the function does not call itself directly but indirectly through another function call.
  • It’s like recursion within recursion.

Below is a Java program demonstrating nested recursion:

public class NestedRecursionExample {
    public static int nestedRecursion(int n) {
        if (n > 100) {
            return n - 10;
        } else {
            return nestedRecursion(nestedRecursion(n + 11));

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int result = nestedRecursion(50);
        System.out.println("Result: " + result);
  • Complexity Handling : Nested recursion can help simplify the handling of complex problems by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable subproblems.
  • Enhanced Algorithm Flexibility: It can offer increased flexibility in designing algorithms, allowing for more intricate and sophisticated recursive structures.
  • Problem-Specific Solutions: In some cases, nested recursion provides a natural way to model and solve problems that exhibit recursive patterns at multiple levels.
  • Increased Space Complexity: Nested recursion can lead to a higher memory overhead compared to non-nested recursion.
  • Reduced Readability and Debugging Complexity: Nesting recursive calls can make the code more difficult to read, understand, and debug. It can be challenging to trace the flow of execution through multiple levels of nested recursion, especially in complex algorithms.
  • Performance Overhead: In certain cases, nested recursion can introduce performance overhead due to the increased number of function calls and stack manipulations.

A recursive method is excessively recursive if it repeats computations for some parameter values.

Excessive recursion refers to a situation where a recursive function makes an excessive number of recursive calls, leading to issues such as stack overflow errors, consumption, and difficulty in debugging.

  • It’s important to optimize recursive algorithms and avoid excessive recursion to ensure efficient and error-free code execution.
  • Excessive recursion, also known as unbounded recursion or runaway recursion, occurs when the recursive calls do not converge towards a base case, leading to an infinite recursion loop.
  • This happens when a proper termination condition is not provided, or the termination condition is never satisfied.
  • Excessive recursion can lead to stack overflow errors or program crashes.

Below is a Java program that demonstrates excessive recursion

public class ExcessiveRecursionExample {
    public static void excessiveRecursion(int n) {
        System.out.println("Recursive call with n = " + n);
        excessiveRecursion(n + 1);

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        try {
        } catch (StackOverflowError e) {
            System.out.println("Stack Overflow occurred!");
  • Simplicity and Readability : Recursion can sometimes lead to more concise and readable code compared to iterative solutions, making the algorithm easier to understand and maintain.
  • Elegance in Algorithm Design : Certain problems naturally lend themselves to recursive solutions, and using recursion can lead to elegant and intuitive algorithm design in such cases.
  • Emphasizing Divide and Conquer : Recursive algorithms often follow the divide-and-conquer paradigm effectively. In some cases, excessive recursion might be necessary to fully leverage this approach and solve complex problems efficiently.
  • Stack Overflow : Excessive recursion can cause the call stack to grow too large, leading to a stack overflow error. This occurs when the recursive calls consume all available stack space, usually due to a large number of nested function calls.
  • Performance Impact : Excessive recursion can result in poor performance compared to iterative solutions. Each recursive call incurs overhead in terms of memory allocation and function call overhead, which can slow down the program execution.
  • Memory Consumption : Each function call in recursion consumes memory on the call stack. Excessive recursion can quickly consume a significant amount of memory, potentially leading to memory exhaustion and performance degradation.

Highlighting the differences between nested and excessive recursion:

AspectNested RecursionExcessive Recursion
DefinitionRecursion within recursion, where a function calls itself indirectly through another function call.Recursion without proper termination condition, leading to an infinite recursion loop.
Termination ConditionProper termination condition is present, recursion stops when the termination condition is met.No proper termination condition, recursion continues indefinitely.
Examplejava int nestedRecursion(int n) { if (n > 100) return n - 10; else return nestedRecursion(nestedRecursion(n + 11)); }java void excessiveRecursion(int n) { excessiveRecursion(n + 1); }
Base Case HandlingTypically handled within the function to stop recursion when a certain condition is met.No explicit base case handling, recursion continues without a stopping condition.
UsefulnessUsed to solve problems that naturally lend themselves to nested recursion, such as certain mathematical algorithms.Generally, unintentional and avoided due to the risk of causing stack overflow errors.
ImpactGenerally controlled and intentional, with a clear understanding of the recursion depth.Uncontrolled and unintentional, leading to potential runtime errors like stack overflow.

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