FAQ: Recursion: Python - Recursion and Big O

This community-built FAQ covers the “Recursion and Big O” exercise from the lesson “Recursion: Python”.

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Learn Recursion: Python

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The highest number that works seems to be 998! On My computer it’s 999…
What? Why?

I wrote a iterative factorial function to check if it has the same limitations… and no, it doesn’t! That is feels a little strange :smiley: .

def ifact(n):
 result = 0
 for i in range(n, 0, -1):
  if result == 0:
   result = 1
  result = result*i
 return result

I’ve managed to run this function with really high values as an argument, the only limit seems to be the time it takes for computing.
And this gave me an idea, to use this function as a benchmarking tool!

Check out this code:

from datetime import datetime as dt

def ifact(n):
	if n == 0:
		result = 1
		result = 1
		for i in range(n, 1, -1):
			result = result * i
	return result

def ibenchmark(n, dbf=False):
	s = dt.now()
	if dbf == False:
		print('calculating iterative factorial of {}'.format(n))
		r = ifact(n)
	if dbf == True:
		print('calculating double iterative factorial of {}'.format(n))
		r = ifact(ifact(n))
	f = dt.now()
	print('result has {} digits.'.format(len(str(r))))
	tt = f - s
	print('took: {}'.format(tt))


I’ve got the output:

result has 1859934 digits.
took: 0:05:05.567477

It took over 5 minutes to compute!!! If you try ibenchmark(8,True) instead - it’s a matter of seconds!


Tired of the dreaded RecursionError? It is possible to increase the system limit on number of recursive calls like so:

import sys