What’s Tail Recursion and How Can You Solve It?

What's Tail Recursion and How Can You Solve It?

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Tail recursion is one issue most programmers have to face in their careers. In this article, we provide you with a tutorial on one of the most common programming questions you are likely to meet in your interview.

What Tail Recursion Entails

This is a type of recursion where a recursive call is the last thing executed by a code or in a function. A recursive call is usually experienced when a function self-invokes. A tail call, on the other hand, occurs when the outcome of a function is similar to that of a different function call.

Tail recursion is often useful in the sense that its implementation is more efficient than the other regular recursions. When making a recursive call, there is a need to push the return address onto the call stack before moving onto the invoked function. Therefore, it is vital that you cite a stack with a linear size with regards to the recursive calls. Making recursive calls also save on space. You can read further about that on this site.

How Can Tail Recursion?Be Solved?

Recursion often utilizes essential and limited stack resource leading to potential fatal CLR error or a stack overflow. In the case of a tail recursive function, little or no stack space is utilized therefore safely putting recursion to use. However, it also has its downside in languages that don?t properly use the tail recursive functions.

In some compilers such as GCC, tail recursion works as an optimization for correcting codes. That may hit a stumbling block of depleted stack space during runtime. In Java, invoking a function from another function may provide the likelihood of the function invoking itself. This type of function-call mechanism in Java language is referred to as Java recursion.

When used correctly, tail recursion?is a good thing. Proper usage means implementing it in the supported languages that will realize the recursion to compile it into a leap that recycles the running stack frame rather than invoking a new function normally. Java, Scheme, and OCaml can do that, reducing cases of stack overflow. Other languages have opted for the loop function instead.


The type of recursion we have explored here is very common in most algorithms developed today. Most programmers prefer it to save on the stack space and enjoy its efficiency when invoking functions. We hope you can wrap your head around our answers for the tail recursion question. In case you meet it in the interview, you can use this knowledge and make sure to give us your feedback.

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