The example of a
while loop that printed the elements of a list
of numbers can be written recursively. Here is the code, including
an expression to set the value of the variable
animals to a list.
This example must be copied to the `*scratch*' buffer and each
expression must be evaluated there. Use C-u C-x C-e to evaluate
(print-elements-recursively animals) expression so that the
results are printed in the buffer; otherwise the Lisp interpreter will
try to squeeze the results into the one line of the echo area.
Also, place your cursor immediately after the last closing parenthesis
print-elements-recursively function, before the comment.
Otherwise, the Lisp interpreter will try to evaluate the comment.
(setq animals '(giraffe gazelle lion tiger)) (defun print-elements-recursively (list) "Print each element of LIST on a line of its own. Uses recursion." (print (car list)) ; body (if list ; do-again-test (print-elements-recursively ; recursive call (cdr list)))) ; next-step-expression (print-elements-recursively animals)
print-elements-recursively function first prints the first
element of the list, the CAR of the list. Then, if the list is
not empty, the function invokes itself, but gives itself as its
argument, not the whole list, but the second and subsequent elements
of the list, the CDR of the list.
When this evaluation occurs, the function prints the first element of
the list it receives as its argument (which is the second element
of the original list). Then, the
if expression is evaluated
and when true, the function calls itself with the CDR of the list
it is invoked with, which (the second time around) is the CDR of
the CDR of the original list.
Each time the function invokes itself, it invokes itself on a shorter
version of the original list. Eventually, the function invokes itself
on an empty list. The
nil. Next, the conditional expression tests the value of
list. Since the value of
if expression tests false so the then-part is not evaluated.
The function as a whole then returns
nil. Consequently, you
nil twice when you evaluate the function.
When you evaluate
(print-elements-recursively animals) in the
`*scratch*' buffer, you see this result:
giraffe gazelle lion tiger nil nil
nil is the value of the empty list that is printed;
nil is the value returned by the whole function.)
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