Java Tutorial



Java Tutorial

Factorial Using Recursion in Java


Factorial calculations are fundamental operations in mathematics and computer science. 

For instance, let's calculate the factorial of 7 (7!). By multiplying all positive integers less than or equal to 7, we get: 7! = 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 5040.

Therefore, the factorial of 7 is equal to 5040.

Java programming offers a variety of methods to compute the factorial of a number. Among them, the recursive method stands out due to its utilization of a powerful concept known as recursion. This technique involves a function invoking itself to tackle smaller iterations of the same problem until it arrives at a base case. With its ability to decompose the problem into manageable subproblems, recursive factorial computation is not only efficient, but also aesthetically pleasing and comprehensible to most programmers.

In this article, we shall examine the Java recursive method for computing a number's factorial. We'll look at how it's used, talk about the benefits and trade-offs it has over the iterative approach, and assess the time and spatial complexity. You will acquire a useful skill for solving factorial problems successfully and quickly by learning the recursive method for factorial computations.


In this in-depth tutorial, we will cover a variety of topics related to calculating the factorial in Java by using recursion. To help you get a better grasp of the material, we will provide in-depth explanations as well as examples in the form of code.

Factorial Using Recursion in Java Using for Loop

Before we dive into the recursive method, let's first review how to calculate the factorial using a loop in Java. Below is an example code snippet:

This program prompts the user to enter a number and calculates its factorial using a `for` loop. The result is then displayed on the console. 

If you run the FactorialUsingLoop program and provide an input number, it will calculate and print the factorial of that number. 

Here's an example:



Factorial Program Using Recursion in Java

Now, let's explore factorials using recursion in Java. Here's the Java code for finding the factorial of a number using recursion:

This program defines a recursive method, `calculateFactorial`, that takes an integer `number` as input and returns its factorial. The method makes recursive calls by decreasing the value of `number` until it reaches the base case of 0 or 1.




The program implements a factorial calculation using recursion. The calculateFactorial() method takes an integer number as input and returns the factorial of that number.

In the calculateFactorial() method, we check for base cases where the input number is 0 or 1. If the number is 0 or 1, the factorial is 1. Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with the number - 1 and multiplies the result by the current number. This recursive process continues until it reaches the base case.

In the main() method, we accept user input for the number using the Scanner class. We then call the calculateFactorial() method with the input number and store the result in the factorial variable. Finally, we display the calculated factorial using System.out.println().

Java Program to Find Factorial of a Number Recursively

To better understand the recursive factorial program, let's consider an example. Suppose we want to find the factorial of 5. Here is how the recursive calls would unfold:

The final result is 120, which is the factorial of 5.

Time and Space Complexity

Understanding the time and space demands of the recursive factorial approach is an essential component of using this method. The recursive procedure has a linear time complexity of O(n), which indicates that it does n calls inside of its own recursion, where n is the number that was provided as input. Because additional memory is needed to store the recursive call stack, the recursive method has a linear space complexity with a value of O(n) when compared to other methods' potential levels of space complexity.

Iterative Method

Now that we've covered the iterative strategy, let's take a look at how the recursive method stacks up against it. In the iterative technique, the factorial is computed by using a loop, but in the recursive method, the factorial is computed by utilizing recursive function calls. Both approaches will result in the same output; however, the one you choose to use will be determined by the particular necessities of your program. When efficiency and space optimization are of the utmost importance, the iterative method is likely to be the most appropriate choice, particularly for large input numbers. On the other hand, the recursive technique provides a solution that is both more brief and more obvious.

Comparing Linear and Recursive Methods

When contrasting the linear (iterative) method with the recursive method, it is essential to take into account the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. The linear technique offers easy implementation in addition to improved space efficiency. By repeatedly going through the numbers, it computes the factorial in a straightforward manner. On the other hand, the recursive method reduces the issue at hand to a series of more manageable subissues, which ultimately results in a solution that is more elegant but requires a greater amount of memory.

Handling Edge Cases in Recursive Factorial Calculation

When implementing factorials using recursion in Java, it's crucial to handle edge cases to ensure the correctness and reliability of the program. Here are some common edge cases to consider:

1. Handling Negative Numbers: The factorial operation is only defined for non-negative integers. Therefore, if the input number is negative, we can throw an IllegalArgumentException to indicate an invalid input. Here's an example:

This example demonstrates the handling of negative numbers by throwing an exception and providing an informative error message when calculating the factorial recursively.

public class RecursiveFactorial {
    public static int calculateFactorial(int n) {
        if (n < 0) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("Factorial is not defined for negative numbers");
        return factorialHelper(n);
    private static int factorialHelper(int n) {
        if (n == 0 || n == 1) {
            return 1;
        return n * factorialHelper(n - 1);

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int number = -5;
        try {
            int factorial = calculateFactorial(number);
            System.out.println("Factorial of " + number + " is: " + factorial);
        } catch (IllegalArgumentException e) {

In this example, we have added an initial check in the calculateFactorial() method to validate whether the input number is negative. If the number is less than 0, we throw an IllegalArgumentException with a custom error message stating that the factorial is not defined for negative numbers.

The calculateFactorial() method then calls the factorialHelper() method, which performs the recursive calculation of the factorial. The factorialHelper() method follows the recursive factorial algorithm and calculates the factorial of a non-negative number.

In the main() method, we set the number variable to -5, which is a negative number. When we attempt to calculate the factorial using the calculateFactorial() method, an IllegalArgumentException will be thrown if the input is negative. We catch the exception using a try-catch block and display the error message using e.getMessage(). The output will be "Factorial is not defined for negative numbers".

2. Handling Zero: The factorial of zero is defined as 1. So, when the input number is zero, we can simply return 1. Here's an example:

Factorial Using Recursion in Python

In Python, we can implement the recursive factorial calculation using a function. The function will call itself with a smaller input until it reaches the base case. Here's a factorial using recursion in java example for Python:

In this code, the `factorial` function takes an input `n`. If `n` is 0, it returns 1 (base case). Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with `n - 1` and multiplies the result by `n`. This recursive approach provides an elegant solution to calculate the factorial in Python.

Factorial Using Recursion in C

Similarly, we can calculate the factorial using recursion in the C programming language. Here's an example:

In this code, the `factorial` function is defined to recursively calculate the factorial. It follows the same logic as in Python, where the base case is when `n` is 0, returning 1. Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with `n - 1` and multiplies the result by `n.` The main function demonstrates the usage of the `factorial` function by calculating the factorial of a given number.

Factorial Using Recursion in Javascript

In JavaScript, we can also use recursion to calculate the factorial of a number. Here's an example:

In this code, the `factorial` function is defined using recursion. It checks if `n` is 0 (the base case) and returns 1. Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with `n - 1` and multiplies the result by `n`. The result is calculated using the `factorial` function and displayed using `console.log()`.

factorial program in java using recursion and scanner

Factorial Program in Java Using Recursion and Scanner

Let’s look at the concept with the following example:

In this program, we first create a `Scanner` object to read user input from the console. The user is prompted to enter a non-negative integer using `System.out.print()`. The input is then stored in the `number` variable using `scanner.nextInt()`. We close the scanner after we have obtained the input.

Next, we pass the `number` variable to the `calculateFactorial()` method, which uses recursion to calculate the factorial. The base case is when `n` is 0, in which case it returns 1. Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with `n - 1` and multiplies the result by `n.`

Finally, we display the calculated factorial using `System.out.println().`


Enter a non-negative integer: 5
Factorial of 5 is: 120

In this example, the program prompts the user to enter a non-negative integer. Let's say the user enters 5. The program then calculates the factorial of 5 using the calculateFactorial() method. The output is displayed as "Factorial of 5 is: 120". This means that the factorial of 5 is 120.

The program uses recursion to calculate the factorial. The calculateFactorial() method checks if the input number is 0. If it is, the method returns 1, as the factorial of 0 is defined as 1. Otherwise, it recursively calls itself with the number decremented by 1 and multiplies it by the current number. This process continues until the base case is reached (0), resulting in the factorial calculation.


In conclusion, we compared the recursive and iterative Java methods for computing integer factorials. Program needs will dictate which method is used, even if both work. Recursive solutions are elegant and simple because they divide the problem down into smaller subproblems until the base case is reached. Recursively calling the original method uses more memory. When dealing with large input amounts or optimizing space, the iterative method is more efficient and applicable.


1. Can we calculate factorials using recursion in languages other than Java?

Yes, the recursive approach to calculating factorials can be implemented in other programming languages such as Python, C, and JavaScript. Recursion is a general concept not limited to Java.

2. What happens if we enter a negative number as input?

The factorial is defined only for non-negative integers. If a negative number is entered, the recursive method will keep making recursive calls indefinitely, resulting in a stack overflow error. It's crucial to handle such cases by adding input validation to ensure a valid input range.

3. Is there a limit to the input number for calculating the factorial using recursion?

The limit on the input number depends on the system's memory and the maximum recursion depth allowed by the programming language. For very large input numbers, the recursive approach may encounter a stack overflow error. In such cases, it's advisable to consider alternative approaches, such as an iterative or optimized solution.

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