# recursive function

Recursive functions may be defined more rigorously as the smallest class of partial functions  from $\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ satisfying the following six criteria:

1. 1.

The constant function $c:\mathbb{Z}_{+}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ defined by $c(x)=1$ for all $x\in\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ is a recursive function.

2. 2.

The addition  function $+:\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{2}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ and the multiplication function $\times:\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{2}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ are recursive function.

3. 3.

The projection functions $I^{n}_{m}\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ with $1\leq m\leq n$ defined as $I^{n}_{m}(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})=x_{m}$ are recursive functions.

4. 4.

If $f\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ is a recursive function and $g_{i}\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{m}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ with $i=1,\ldots n$ are recursive functions, then $h\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$, defined by $h(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})=f(g_{1}(x_{1},\ldots,x_{m}),\ldots,g_{n}(x_{1},\ldots,x_% {m}))$ is a recursive function.

5. 5.

(Closure under primitive recursion) If $f\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ and $g\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n+2}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ are recursive function, then $h\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n+1}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$, defined by the recursion

 $h(n+1,x_{1},\ldots,x_{k})=g(h(n,x_{1},\ldots,x_{k}),n,x_{1},\ldots,x_{k})$

with the initial condition

 $h(0,x_{1},\ldots,x_{k})=f(x_{1},\ldots,x_{k})$

is a recursive function.

6. 6.

(Closure under minimization) If $f\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n+1}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ is a recursive function then $g\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ is a recursive function, where

• $g(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})$ is defined to be $y$, if there exists a $y\in\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ such that

1. i.

$f(0,x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}),f(1,x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}),\ldots,f(y,x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})$ are all defined,

2. ii.

$f(z,x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})\neq 0$ when $1\leq z, and

3. iii.

$f(y,x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})=0$.

• $g(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})$ is undefined otherwise.

The operation  whereby $h$ was constructed from $f$ and $g$ in criterion 5 is known as primitive recursion. The operation described in criterion 6 is known as minimization. That is to say, for any given function $f\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n+1}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$, the partial function $g\colon\mathbb{Z}_{+}^{n}\to\mathbb{Z}_{+}$ constructed as in criterion 6 is known as the minimization of $f$ and is denoted by $g=\mu f$.

The smallest set of functions satisfying criteria 1-5, but not criterion 6, is known as the set of primitive recursive functions  . Therefore, the set $\mathcal{R}$ of all recursive function is the closure of the set $\mathcal{PR}$ of primitive recursive function with respect to minimization. It can be shown that $\mathcal{R}$ is exactly the set of Turing-computable functions. In terms of programming languages, a function is recursive iff it can be computed by a program involving the DO WHILE loops (minimization).

With some work, it can be shown that the class of recursive functions can be characterized by considerably weaker sets of criteria than those given above. See the entry “alternative characterizations of recursive functions (http://planetmath.org/AlternativeCharacterizationsOfRecursiveFunctions)” for several such characterizations  .

 Title recursive function Canonical name RecursiveFunction Date of creation 2013-03-22 14:34:35 Last modified on 2013-03-22 14:34:35 Owner rspuzio (6075) Last modified by rspuzio (6075) Numerical id 27 Author rspuzio (6075) Entry type Definition Classification msc 03D20 Synonym unbounded minimization Related topic PrimitiveRecursive Related topic RecursiveFunctionIsURMComputable Related topic BoundedMinimization Defines primitive recursion Defines minimization