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A Beginner's Guide to Recursion

31 Mar
Tuesday, 03/31/2020 10:00am to 11:00am
Speaker: Lizhen Shi

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Abstract: Recursion is a wonderful and powerful tool for solving computational problems that have recursive nature, like Factorial, Fibonacci number, Ackermann function, tree traversal, etc. However, people keep thinking of recursion as an advanced intimidating topic, recursion seems like a magic to them.

In this presentation, I will break down the recursion concept into multiple simple parts and explain it to the undergraduates in CS 187 in an approachable way. This talk requires no background of Computer Science, students only need to understand the basics of java programming. Specifically, in this talk, I will first teach the definition of recursion. To better understand the definition, I will then talk about the stacks and the call stack behind the scene, followed by the design and implementation of recursive functions. Any problem that can be solved using recursion can also be solved using for and while loops. Next, I will discuss the advantages and limitations of a recursive solution in contrast with its iterative solution. Finally, I will ask students to play some kahoot questions in order to evaluate their learning and conclude my talk.

Bio: Lizhen Shi is a Ph. D. candidate in the department of Computer Science at the Florida State University (FSU). Prior to joining FSU, she had worked as a software engineer for 5 years in industry. At FSU, her dissertation research centers around applying state-of-the-art Big Data and Machine Learning technologies to address challenges existing in DNA sequence analysis. Till date, she has published several peer-reviewed journal and conference papers.

She works as an instructor and delivers her own slides twice a week for two undergraduate courses at Florida State University since Spring 2019. She has worked with colleagues/students from diverse backgrounds and is committed to motivating more underrepresented students in Computer Science. She has been actively involved in mentoring female students in programming at Graduate Women in STEM at FSU, and has a strong passion to promote diversity, inclusion and belonging among vulnerable groups.

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