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  • The main method calls the method printMax ; the actual parameters are two integer literals.
  • The activation record for printMax is allocated, and the actual parameters are used to initialize the formal parameters a and b .
  • The variable max is allocated but not initialized.
  • The method maximum is called; the actual parameters are the values of a and b , which are the formal variables of method printMax .
  • An activation record is allocated for maximum . (There are now three activation in the stack.) The new activation record includesmemory for the formal parameters a and b ; note that these are new parameters not at all related to the formal parameters of the same namesin the previous method printMax because those parameters are hidden.
  • The method maximum executes its body and returns a value. Just before it returns, select the tab Call Tree above the graphic display; the sequence of calls from main to printMax and then maximum is displayed. Select Theater to return to the animated display.
  • When the method returns, its activation record is deallocated, uncovering the activation record of printMax .
  • The value returned is assigned to the variable max and printed.
  • When printMax completes its execution, its activation record is deallocated.

Note: In a call to a static method, the name of the class in which it is defined can be given as in the call to maximum . Since the method is defined in the same class as the call,the class name need not be given, as shown in the call to printMax .

Exercise Write a program to compute the maximum of six values using as few statements as possible.


Concept Recursion occurs when method calls itself. There is nothing at all mysterious about recursion!Each call simply creates a new activation record on the stack. However, to ensure that the recursive calls terminate,eventually, some call of the method should return without invoking itself once again.

Program: Method04.java

// Learning Object Method04 //    recursionpublic class Method04 {     static int factorial (int n) {        if (n <= 1)             return 1;        else             return n * factorial(n-1);    }      public static void main(/*String[] args*/) {        System.out.println(factorial(5));     }}

The standard example of a recursive method is one that computes the factorial function:

n ! = n · ( n - 1 ) · · 2 · 1 = n · ( n - 1 ) !

The recursion is terminated by defining n ! = 1 for n 1 .

  • The main method calls the method factorial with the actual parameter 5. This creates an activation record with the formal parameter n initialized to 5.
  • To compute the expression in the second return statement, the method factorial is called again, this time with the actual parameter equal to 5 - 1 = 4 .
  • The sequence of recursive calls continues five times, each one allocating a new activation record with a new variable n .
  • Finally, factorial is called with actual parameter 1. This call creates a new activation record as usual, but does notcause factorial to be invoked again. Instead, the value 1 is returned and the activation record is deallocated.Just before the method returns, select the tab Call Tree above the graphic display; the sequence of calls from main to the sequence of recursive calls is displayed. Select Theater to return to the animated display.
  • The recursive sequence unfolds : each returned value is used to compute a new value to be returned by that call of factorial .
  • Finally, the value 120 is returned to the main method and printed.

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Source:  OpenStax, Learning objects for java (with jeliot). OpenStax CNX. Dec 28, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10915/1.2
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