Recursion Applied using Delegates & Lambda Expressions

Yesterday, I came across an excellent article on “Anonymous Recursion in C#” by Wesdyer, I thought I’ll give a try on applying Delegates and Lambda Expressions in solving a recursive problem.

Lambda Expressions are well suited in solving mathematical problems (apart from other domains). One of the basic problem we encountered in our early mathematics is a factorial. A factorial is represented as factoral(n) => n! = n(n-1)(n-2)! where factorial(0) = 1. If you look at it, it is recursive by nature. We usually solve it using a recursive method in C# like this.

Code Snippet
  1.     /// <summary>
  2.     /// Factorial is represented as n! = n(n-1)! or n! = n(n-1)(n-2)! so on...
  3.     /// and you can see, it is recursive by nature.
  4.     /// Also factorial of 0 is 1 [base case] i.e. Recursion limit/end condition.
  5.     /// </summary>
  6.     public static long Factorial(long n)
  7.     {
  8.         return n > 1 ? n * Factorial(n - 1) : 1;
  9.     }
  10. }

Here is my take on it using a generic and recursive delegate and a lambda expression. (For functional programming and lambda calculas read here [Wiki]).

Code Snippet
  1. delegate TResult RecursiveDelegate<TArg,TResult>( RecursiveDelegate<TArg,TResult> f, TArg arg );
  2. public static void FactorialTest()
  3. {
  4.     RecursiveDelegate<long, long> factorial = (f, n) => n > 1 ? n * f(f, n - 1) : 1;
  5.  
  6.     // Look how I called the recursive delegate.
  7.     Console.WriteLine(factorial(factorial, 5)); // The answer is 120.
  8. }

I defined a generic recursive delegate namely RecursiveDelegate<TArg,TResult>, that takes two arguments, one is reference to itself and the other one is, argument of generic type. The Factorial method, defined earlier, is re-written in the form of Lambda Expression, see Line#4 above. Also notice, how the recursion is invoked, line#7. Isn't it beautiful, absolutely is I’ll come to the Lambda Expressions once again when I’ll discuss about LINQ. So stay tuned.

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