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Thread: How does this work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    How does this work?

    How does this work?

    Hello, I have a little logic problem in my head. I was trying to understand how does this code work:

     var power = function (base, exponent){
        if (exponent === 0){
            return 1;
        else {
            return base * power(base, exponent-1);
    It is from a lesson. What I am trying to find out is that: we ave defined a function with parameters base and exponent. Now it returns 0 if exponent is 1. In other cases it returns base * base^(exponent-1) which is basically x*x to the power of exponent -1.

    Now how does base*power(base,exponent-1) work because I have not defined any way in this code to calculate it. As in how does the code know that I am trying to multiply x*x*x...etc.

    I do not know if this makes any sense to any of you but if someone could explain.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    It's a recursive function. It repeatedly calls itself, decrementing the value of 'exponent' by 1 with each call until exponent equals 0.

    When you call power(2,2):
    First time through:
    return 2 * (power(2,1))
    Second time through:
    return 2 * (power(2,0));
    Third time through:
    return 1;
    Which is returned to the call in the second time through to resolve to:
    return 2 * (1);
    Which is returned to the call in the first time through to resolve to:
    return 2 * 2;
    Which equals 4 - and returned as the correct answer.
    Rick Trethewey
    Rainbo Design

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