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Recursiveness is the quality of being defined in terms which include the whole. For example, in symbolic logic a well-formed formula (WFF) can be either:

  1. a predicate
  2. the negation of a WFF
  3. the combination of two WFF's with a binary operator

The LISP programming language uses a recursive data structure. Most programming languages permit recursion by allowing the programmer call a function within itself. Some have no syntax for making looping code other than by recursion. (for its use in computer science see main article on recursion)

A fascination with recursive definitions in the software development community (free software in particular) led to the invention of several recursive acronyms:

  • PHP (originally Personal Home Page) => PHP Hypertext Pre-processor
  • GNU (GNU's Not Unix)
  • WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator)
  • YAML (YAML Ain't Markup Language)

See also