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Escape from Recursion with a Time Limit

Given that recursion is to be used in a strictly timed environment, there are several options that can be considered. These are listed below:


    Add more if statements throughout the method body especially before segments of code that can block to ensure the code execution gets halted as soon as the time expires. A specific cushion interval must be implemented to give time for the return statements to propagate back up the stack.


  • Simple to implement.
  • Relatively simple and effective.


  • Degrades readability of code.
  • Does not guarantee execution will fall under specified time.


    Port the executive code to a secondary thread which progressively writes to an object as it executes. The primary thread can then start a timer while firing off this thread. When the timer expires the primary thread need only retrieve this object and inform the worker thread to die.


  • Extremely accurate (results retrieved nearly on the dot with delays due to synchronization)
  • Does not need a cushion interval - The recursive function can go as deep as it wants without being tied back by trying to fit the return propagation within the timer.
  • Allows graceful shutdown of the executive code as it is no longer bounded by time (results are taken and the thread is allowed to die at its own pace).


  • Multi-threaded - Due to this solution being multi-threaded, it may not be applicable to every scenario.
  • Requires a lot of extra code and possibly changes in some existing code to implement.

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