Recursive Functions and Returning Values from Parameters

In the next example we will be making recursive function calls which means the function
will call itself inside its own function. Also, we will be using a java.util.Vector to
return values from our function call. Recursion and returning by parameter doesn't
always occur together, but in the next example it is practical to do so. In this example
we will be using the Fibonacci number sequence which is a sequence that expands by
adding the final two numbers in the sequence to create a sum which is the next number
in the sequence. Here are the first several numbers in the Fibonacci sequence:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.

Here is the example:
import*; import java.util.Vector; class RecursiveFibonacci { public static void main(String args[]) { try { Vector vecFibonacci=new Vector(); //Required for initializing the sequence with the first two indices that will be used for adding the numbers vecFibonacci.addElement(new Integer(1)); vecFibonacci.addElement(new Integer(1)); BufferedReader br=new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(; while(true) { System.out.println("Type in \"1\" if you want to find the nth Fibonacci number or type in \"2\" if you want to exit.\n"); String strRequest=br.readLine(); if(strRequest.equals("2")) break; System.out.println(""); System.out.println("What index(starting with 1) of Fibonacci number do you want to return?\n"); String strIndex=br.readLine(); int intIndex=-1; try { intIndex=Integer.parseInt(strIndex); } catch(Exception ex) { continue; } if(intIndex<1) continue; System.out.println(""); if(intIndex<=vecFibonacci.size()) { System.out.println("The "+String.valueOf(intIndex)+"th Fibonacci number is "+String.valueOf(vecFibonacci.elementAt(intIndex-1))+"\n"); } else { int intIndicesLeftToCompute=intIndex-vecFibonacci.size(); computeFibonacci(intIndicesLeftToCompute, vecFibonacci); System.out.println("The "+String.valueOf(intIndex)+"th Fibonacci number is "+String.valueOf(vecFibonacci.elementAt(vecFibonacci.size()-1))+"\n"); } } } catch(Exception ex) { ex.printStackTrace(); } } public static void computeFibonacci(int intIndicesLeftToCompute, Vector vecFibonacci) { int intOne=((Integer)vecFibonacci.elementAt(vecFibonacci.size()-2)).intValue(); int intTwo=((Integer)vecFibonacci.elementAt(vecFibonacci.size()-1)).intValue(); vecFibonacci.addElement(new Integer(intOne+intTwo)); --intIndicesLeftToCompute; if(intIndicesLeftToCompute==0) return; computeFibonacci(intIndicesLeftToCompute, vecFibonacci); } }
The recursive function is "computeFibonacci" which recursively calls itself until the int parameter "intIndicesLeftToCompute" reaches 0 then the function returns and the Vector "vecFibonacci" contains all the numbers in the sequence up to the nth index specified in the "main" function. "intOne" and "intTwo" are the next to last and the last elements in the sequence which are stored in the Vector. Their sum is the new final element in the sequence. The only reason why the Vector can be used to pass back values from the function is because it is a pointer to a Vector that was constructed in a calling function(in this case "main"). If you assign a different Object to a variable passed into a function then the calling function won't contain the correct reference to the Object. In this lesson, you learned about recursive functions and how to exit them by passing in a parameter that is used to terminate the recursion when it reaches a certain value. You also learned how to return values from a function by using a parameter.