# Reasoning about Recursion

We're now experienced users of structural recursion over the natural numbers. Let's now return to our substitution model and see if it works with our new tool of recursion.

Recall that substitution says we can substitute the value of an expression wherever we see a value. In the case of a method call, we can substitute the body of the method with appropriate renaming of the parameters.

Our very first example of recursion was `boxes`

, written like so:

```
val aBox = Image.square(20).fillColor(Color.royalBlue)
def boxes(count: Int): Image =
count match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
```

Let's try using substitution on `boxes(3)`

to see what we get.

Our first substitution is

```
boxes(3)
// Substitute body of `boxes`
3 match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
```

Knowing how to evaluate a `match`

expression and using substitution again gives us

```
3 match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
// Substitute right-hand side expression of `case n`
aBox.beside(boxes(2))
```

We can substitute again on `boxes(2)`

to obtain

```
aBox.beside(boxes(2))
// Substitute body of boxes
aBox.beside {
2 match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
}
// Substitute right-hand side expression of `case n`
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside(boxes(1))
}
```

Repeating the process a few more times we get

```
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
1 match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
}
}
// Substitute right-hand side expression of `case n`
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside(boxes(0))
}
}
// Substitute body of boxes
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
0 match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
}
}
}
// Substitute right-hand side expression of `case 0`
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
aBox.beside {
Image.empty
}
}
}
```

Our final result, which simplifies to

`aBox.beside(aBox).beside(aBox).beside(Image.empty)`

is exactly what we expect. Therefore we can say that substitution works to reason about recursion. This is great! However the substitutions are quite complex and difficult to keep track of without writing them down.

### Reasoning About Structural Recursion

There is a more practical way to reason about structural recursion. Structural recursion guarantees the overall recursion is correct if we get the individual components correct. There are two parts to the structural recursion; the base case and the recursive case. The base case we can check just by looking at it. The recursive case has the recursive call (the method calling itself) but *we don't have to consider this*. It is given to us by structural recursion so it will be correct so long as the other parts are correct. We can simply assume the recursive call it correct and then check that we are doing the right thing with the result of this call.

Let's apply this to reasoning about `boxes`

.

```
def boxes(count: Int): Image =
count match {
case 0 => Image.empty
case n => aBox.beside(boxes(n-1))
}
```

We can tell the base case is correct by inspection.
Looking at the recursive case we *assume* that `boxes(n-1)`

will do the right thing.
The question then becomes: is what we do with the result of the recursive call `boxes(n-1)`

, correct?
The answer is yes: if the recursion `boxes(n-1)`

creates `n-1`

boxes in a line, sticking a box in front of them is the right thing to do.
Since the individual cases are correct the whole thing is guaranted correct by structural recursion.

This way of reasoning is much more compact than using substitution *and* guaranteed to work *if* we're using structural recursion.

### Exercises {-}

Below are some rather silly examples of structural recursion.
Work out if the methods do what they claim to do *without* running them.

```
// Given a natural number, returns that number
// Examples:
// identity(0) == 0
// identity(3) == 3
def identity(n: Int): Int =
n match {
case 0 => 0
case n => 1 + identity(n-1)
}
```

<div class="solution">
It sure does!
The base case is straightforward.
Looking at the recursive case, we assume that `identity(n-1)`

returns the identity for `n-1`

(which is exactly `n-1`

).
The identity for `n`

is then `1 + identity(n-1)`

.
</div>

```
// Given a natural number, double that number
// Examples:
// double(0) == 0
// double(3) == 6
def double(n: Int): Int =
n match {
case 0 => 0
case n => 2 * double(n-1)
}
```

<div class="solution"> No way! This method is broken in two different ways. Firstly, because we're multiplying in the recursive case we will eventualy end up multiplying by base case of zero, and therefore the entire result will be zero.

We might try and fix this by adding a case for `1`

(and perhaps wonder why the structural recursion skeleton let us down).

```
def double(n: Int): Int =
n match {
case 0 => 0
case 1 => 1
case n => 2 * double(n-1)
}
```

This doesn't give us the correct result, however! We're doing the wrong thing at the recursive case: we should be adding, not multiplying.

A bit of algebra:

`2(n-1 + 1) == 2(n-1) + 2`

So if `double(n-1)`

is `2(n-1)`

then we should *add* 2, not multiply by 2.
The correct method is

```
def double(n: Int): Int =
n match {
case 0 => 0
case n => 2 + double(n-1)
}
```

</div>