This article provides a definition of recursion1 based on the facilities offered by the spreadsheet. The recursive paradigm is contrasted with the functional form, whereby a table of values is generated by reference to the values of neighbouring cells rather than by means of context-independent direct formulae. The examples given in this article show that the application of recursive thinking need not be restricted to conventionally recognized areas, but that in many cases recursive thinking allows fresh insight into normally ‘hard’ areas.

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