Python Program to Find the Sum of Elements in a List using Recursion

1. Introduction

Recursion is a programming technique where a function calls itself to solve a problem. In Python, recursion can be a clean and elegant way to perform operations on sequences, such as finding the sum of elements in a list.


Recursion involves breaking down a problem into smaller instances of the same problem, solving each smaller instance, and combining those solutions to form the solution to the original problem. In the context of summing elements in a list, recursion can find the sum by adding the first element to the sum of the rest of the list.

2. Program Steps

1. Define a recursive function that calculates the sum of a list.

2. If the list is empty, return 0.

3. Otherwise, return the first element added to the sum of the remaining list.

4. Print the result of the recursive sum function.

3. Code Program

# Define the recursive function to sum elements in the list
def recursive_sum(numbers):
    # Base case: if the list is empty, return 0
    if not numbers:
        return 0
        # Recursive case: return the first element plus the sum of the rest of the list
        return numbers[0] + recursive_sum(numbers[1:])

# List of numbers
elements = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

# Calculate the sum using the recursive function
total_sum = recursive_sum(elements)

# Print the sum of elements
print(f"The sum of elements in the list is: {total_sum}")


The sum of elements in the list is: 15


1. recursive_sum is a function that takes a list of numbers as an argument.

2. If numbers is empty (if not numbers), it returns 0 - this is the base case for the recursion.

3. In the recursive case, the function returns the sum of the first element (numbers[0]) and the recursive call to recursive_sum with the rest of the list (numbers[1:]).

4. elements contains a list of integers from 1 to 5.

5. total_sum calls recursive_sum with elements, starting the recursion process.

6. The final print statement outputs the total sum, which is 15, indicating the sum of all the integers in elements.