# Assembly - Recursion

A recursive procedure is one that calls itself. There are two kind of recursion: direct and indirect. In direct recursion, the procedure calls itself and in indirect recursion, the first procedure calls a second procedure, which in turn calls the first procedure.

Recursion could be observed in numerous mathematical algorithms. For example, consider the case of calculating the factorial of a number. Factorial of a number is given by the equation −

Fact (n) = n * fact (n-1) for n > 0

For example: factorial of 5 is 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 = 5 x factorial of 4 and this can be a good example of showing a recursive procedure. Every recursive algorithm must have an ending condition, i.e., the recursive calling of the program should be stopped when a condition is fulfilled. In the case of factorial algorithm, the end condition is reached when n is 0.

The following program shows how factorial n is implemented in assembly language. To keep the program simple, we will calculate factorial 3.

section .text global _start ;must be declared for using gcc _start: ;tell linker entry point mov bx, 3 ;for calculating factorial 3 call proc_fact add ax, 30h mov [fact], ax mov edx,len ;message length mov ecx,msg ;message to write mov ebx,1 ;file descriptor (stdout) mov eax,4 ;system call number (sys_write) int 0x80 ;call kernel mov edx,1 ;message length mov ecx,fact ;message to write mov ebx,1 ;file descriptor (stdout) mov eax,4 ;system call number (sys_write) int 0x80 ;call kernel mov eax,1 ;system call number (sys_exit) int 0x80 ;call kernel proc_fact: cmp bl, 1 jg do_calculation mov ax, 1 ret do_calculation: dec bl call proc_fact inc bl mul bl ;ax = al * bl ret section .data msg db 'Factorial 3 is:',0xa len equ $ - msg section .bss fact resb 1

When the above code is compiled and executed, it produces the following result −

Factorial 3 is: 6