Sunday, March 31, 2024

Repair: "RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded" in Python

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Python is understood for its simplicity and readability. Though, even in Python, chances are you’ll often bump into errors that do not make lots of sense at first look. A type of errors is the RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded.

This Byte goals that will help you perceive what this error is, why it happens, and how one can repair it. A primary understanding of Python programming, notably capabilities, is advisable.

Recursion in Python

Recursion is a basic idea in laptop science the place a perform calls itself in its definition. It is a highly effective idea that may simplify code for the proper drawback, making it cleaner and extra readable. Nevertheless, it might additionally result in some difficult errors if not dealt with rigorously.

Let’s check out a easy recursive perform in Python:

def factorial(n):
    """Calculate the factorial of a quantity utilizing recursion"""
    if n == 1:
        return 1
        return n * factorial(n-1)


While you run this code, it should prints 120, which is the factorial of 5. The perform factorial calls itself with a special argument every time till it reaches the bottom case (n == 1), at which level it begins returning the outcomes again up the decision stack.

The RecursionError

So what occurs if a recursive perform does not have a correct base case or the bottom case is rarely reached? Let’s modify the above perform to search out out:

def endless_recursion(n):
    """A recursive perform with out a correct base case"""
    return n * endless_recursion(n-1)


# RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded

While you run this code, you may encounter the RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded. However why does this occur?

Be aware: Python has a restrict on the depth of recursion to forestall a stack overflow. The utmost depth is platform-dependent however is usually round 1000. For those who exceed this restrict, Python raises a RecursionError.

Causes of RecursionError

The RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded is a security mechanism in Python. It prevents your program from coming into an infinite loop and utilizing up all of the stack house. This error normally happens when:

  1. The bottom case of a recursive perform isn’t outlined accurately, or
  2. The recursive perform does not attain the bottom case inside the most recursion depth.

Within the endless_recursion perform above, there isn’t any base case, which causes the perform to name itself indefinitely and finally exceed the utmost recursion depth.

Fixing the RecursionError

While you get a RecursionError, you in all probability now perceive that your code has gone too deep into recursion. So, how can we repair this?

At the start, you may have to evaluation your code and perceive why it is inflicting infinite recursion. Usually, the issue lies within the base case of your recursive perform. Make it possible for your perform has a situation that stops the recursion.

Going again to our earlier instance that causes a RecursionError:

def endless_recursion(n):
    """A recursive perform with out a correct base case"""
    return n * endless_recursion(n-1)


To repair this, we have to add a base case that stops the recursion when n is lower than or equal to 0:

def endless_recursion(n):
    if n <= 0:
        return n
    return n * endless_recursion(n-1)


Generally, regardless of having a base case, you would possibly nonetheless exceed the utmost recursion depth. This may occur while you’re coping with giant inputs. In such circumstances, you’ll be able to enhance the recursion restrict utilizing sys.setrecursionlimit().

import sys


def recursive_function(n):
    if n <= 0:
        return n
    return recursive_function(n-1)


Warning: Be cautious when altering the recursion restrict. Setting it too excessive can result in a stack overflow and crash your program. At all times stability the necessity for deeper recursion towards the accessible system assets.

Most Recursion Depth in Python

Python’s sys module permits us to entry the default most recursion depth. You’ll find out the present setting with the getrecursionlimit() perform. Here is how one can examine it:

import sys


This may sometimes output 1000, though it might differ relying on the platform.

Modifying the Most Recursion Depth

We briefly touched on this earlier, but it surely’s price getting into a bit extra depth. Whereas it is typically not advisable, you’ll be able to modify the utmost recursion depth utilizing the setrecursionlimit() perform from the sys module.

import sys


This units the recursion restrict to 2000 calls, permitting for deeper recursion.

Rising the recursion depth permits your recursive capabilities to make extra calls, which will be helpful for algorithms that naturally require deep recursion. Nevertheless, this comes at the price of elevated reminiscence utilization and potential system instability.

Lowering the recursion depth could make your program extra conservative when it comes to useful resource utilization, however it might additionally make it extra susceptible to RecursionError even when the recursion is logically right.

Utilizing Recursion Depth in Debugging

One technique to debug these sorts of points is to print the present depth of every recursive name. This will help you see in case your perform is approaching the utmost restrict or if the recursion is not making progress towards the bottom case as anticipated.

def factorial(n, depth=1):
    print(f"Present recursion depth: {depth}")
    if n == 1:
        return 1
        return n * factorial(n-1, depth + 1)


On this instance, the depth argument is used to maintain observe of the present recursion depth. This sort of debug output will be actually helpful when making an attempt to know why a RecursionError is going on.

Utilizing this together with getrecursionlimit() will help you observe precisely how shut you might be to the restrict when profiling your code.


On this Byte, we have seemed into the RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded in Python. We have explored repair this error and shared tips about avoiding it sooner or later. We have additionally talked the Python stack and the idea of recursion depth.

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