Re: Java Questions Again: What's So Great About Recursion

  • From: "Littlefield, Tyler" <tyler@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2011 10:58:54 -0600

Recursion has a limited number of applications where it is actually more useful than a loop, I'll give one I use it for. In my game engine, properties are stored in a tree setup with a root property and all other properties work from there. so, you could essentially have, stats.mana, etc. stats is the root node, health are the children nodes on stats.
Now, here's where recursion comes in handy.
when I serialize this tree, I write it all in xml. so I'll serialize the stats, then I'll serialize health. what I do is something like this:
Serialize(XMLNode, property)
so lets say that has two properties:, and in order to serialize that I would have to loop through the properties of, then if hp were to have another property I'd have to loop through those, which could get messy. Rather than do that though, I use recursion. so the serialization setup calls serialize on stats, passing the root, then that function calls serialize on passing health. I hope I explained that properly. Essentially in summary, it allows me to keep passing in each node of the tree until I am finally done. I can recurse until I get done serializing a branch, at which point I will pop back to where i was because the recursion will return when it's done.

On 4/7/2011 10:51 AM, Homme, James wrote:


It's probably my ignorance coming out to bite me again, but I just was reading about recursion in my Java book and thinking that it isn't all that useful because you can do the same stuff with a loop. Maybe the book examples are so simple that I just don't see it's usefulness. They were even saying that recursion eats up more memory than loops do, so I'm wondering why I learned it in the first place, other than to know how it works and that it exists.

Please help.



Jim Homme,

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