Recurrence relations in mathematics form a very powerful and compact way of looking at a wide range of relationships. Traditionally, the concept of recurrence has often been a difficult one for the secondary teacher to convey to students. Closely related to the powerful proof technique of mathematical induction, recurrences are able to capture many relationships in formulas much simpler than so-called direct or closed formulas. In computer science, recursive coding often has a similar compactness property, and, perhaps not surprisingly, suffers from similar problems in the classroom as recurrences: the students often find both the basic concepts and practicalities elusive. Using models designed to illuminate the relevant principles for the students, we offer a range of examples which use the modern spreadsheet environment to powerfully illustrate the great expressive and computational power of recurrences.

Models.xls (56 kB)
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