Recursion vs loops

loopsrecursion

I'm facing a problem where both recursion and using a loop seem like natural solutions. Is there a convention or "preferred method" for cases like this? (Obviously it is not quite as simple as below)

Recursion

Item Search(string desired, Scope scope) {
    foreach(Item item in scope.items)
        if(item.name == desired)
            return item;

    return scope.Parent ? Search(desired, scope.Parent) : null;
}

Loop

Item Search(string desired, Scope scope) {
    for(Scope cur = scope; cur != null; cur = cur.Parent)
        foreach(Item item in cur.items)
            if(item.name == desired)
                return item;

    return null;
}

Best Solution

I favor recursive solutions when:

  • The implementation of the recursion is much simpler than the iterative solution, usually because it exploits a structural aspect of the problem in a way that the iterative approach cannot

  • I can be reasonably assured that the depth of the recursion will not cause a stack overflow, assuming we're talking about a language that implements recursion this way

Condition 1 doesn't seem to be the case here. The iterative solution is about the same level of complexity, so I'd stick with the iterative route.