recursive function: use a global or pass a parameter?

Chris Angelico rosuav at
Sat Jan 17 20:27:22 CET 2015

On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 4:30 AM, Albert van der Horst
<albert at> wrote:
> The proper technique is make the global local to the normal subroutine,
> then make the subroutine with those parameters you don't want to see
> also local to that subroutine.
> E.g.
> def fib(n):
>     ' return the n-th Fibonacci number '
>     a,b = 0,1
>     def fib1(ap,bp):
>        ' for f_n,f_n+1, return f_n+1,f_n+2 '
>        return bp,ap+b
>     for i in xrange(n):
>        a,b = fib1(a,b)
>     return a

That's a fairly useless use of a nested function... you could in-line
it without any effort at all:

def fib(n):
    a,b = 0,1
    for i in xrange(n):
        a,b = b,a+b
    return a

Even in the OP's example, where the inner function needs to call
itself recursively, it doesn't need to be a closure; a simple
out-of-line helper function does work (and has already been suggested;
Gregory was, I think, first). In my opinion, it's not materially
different from having an argument with a default.


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