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








Python is understood for its simplicity and readability. Though, even in Python, it’s possible you’ll sometimes bump into errors that do not make loads 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 fundamental understanding of Python programming, significantly features, is really helpful.

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 best downside, making it cleaner and extra readable. Nevertheless, it could actually 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)


If you run this code, it’ll prints 120, which is the factorial of 5. The perform factorial calls itself with a unique 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

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

Observe: Python has a restrict on the depth of recursion to forestall a stack overflow. The utmost depth is platform-dependent however is often round 1000. Should you 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 appropriately, or
  2. The recursive perform does not attain the bottom case throughout the most recursion depth.

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

Fixing the RecursionError

If you get a RecursionError, you most likely now perceive that your code has gone too deep into recursion. So, how will we repair this?

Firstly, you may must overview your code and perceive why it is inflicting infinite recursion. Usually, the issue lies within the base case of your recursive perform. Guarantee that 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 will occur if you’re coping with giant inputs. In such instances, you may improve 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 steadiness the necessity for deeper recursion towards the accessible system sources.

Most Recursion Depth in Python

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

import sys


This may usually output 1000, though it could differ relying on the platform.

Modifying the Most Recursion Depth

We briefly touched on this earlier, however it’s price moving into a bit extra depth. Whereas it is typically not really helpful, you may 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 features to make extra calls, which may be helpful for algorithms that naturally require deep recursion. Nevertheless, this comes at the price of elevated reminiscence utilization and potential system instability.

Decreasing the recursion depth could make your program extra conservative when it comes to useful resource utilization, however it could actually additionally make it extra liable to RecursionError even when the recursion is logically appropriate.

Utilizing Recursion Depth in Debugging

One option to debug these sorts of points is to print the present depth of every recursive name. This can assist 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 may be actually helpful when making an attempt to know why a RecursionError is happening.

Utilizing this together with getrecursionlimit() can assist you observe precisely how shut you’re to the restrict when profiling your code.


On this Byte, we have appeared into the RecursionError: most recursion depth exceeded in Python. We have explored tips on how to 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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