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## Mastering Factorial Calculation in C Programming: Iterative and Recursive Methods Explained

Factorial calculation is a fundamental concept in programming and mathematics. In C programming, calculating the factorial of a number is an excellent way to understand loops and recursion. This article delves into how to compute a number’s factorial in C, utilizing both iterative and recursive methods.

## Understanding Factorial

The factorial of a number, usually denoted as `n!`, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to `n`. For instance, `5! = 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1 = 120`. It’s important to note that the factorial of 0 is defined as 1.

## Iterative Approach to Calculate Factorial

### Code Explanation

The iterative method uses a loop to multiply the numbers successively.

```#include <stdio.h>

long factorial(int n) {
long fact = 1;
for (int i = 1; i <= n; i++) {
fact *= i;
}
return fact;
}

int main() {
int number;
printf("Enter a number: ");
scanf("%d", &number);
printf("Factorial of %d is %ld\n", number, factorial(number));
return 0;
}

```

### How It Works

In this code, the `factorial` function calculates the factorial of the number `n`. It initializes `fact` as 1 and multiplies it by each number from 1 to `n` using a `for` loop.

## Recursive Approach to Calculate Factorial

### Code Explanation

Recursion involves the function calling itself with a reduced problem size.

```#include <stdio.h>

long factorial(int n) {
if (n == 0)
return 1;
else
return n * factorial(n - 1);
}

int main() {
int number;
printf("Enter a number: ");
scanf("%d", &number);
printf("Factorial of %d is %ld\n", number, factorial(number));
return 0;
}

```

### How It Works

The `factorial` function calls itself with `n-1` until it reaches 0, where it returns 1. Each return value is multiplied with `n`, giving the factorial result.

## Conclusion

Calculating the factorial of a number in C can be achieved through iterative or recursive methods. Both approaches are effective, but recursion offers a more elegant solution, while iteration might be more intuitive for beginners. Understanding these methods is crucial for anyone learning C programming, as they provide insights into important programming concepts like loops and recursion.

#### Sarang Sharma

Sarang Sharma is Software Engineer at Bito with a robust background in distributed systems, chatbots, large language models (LLMs), and SaaS technologies. With over six years of experience, Sarang has demonstrated expertise as a lead software engineer and backend engineer, primarily focusing on software infrastructure and design. Before joining Bito, he significantly contributed to Engati, where he played a pivotal role in enhancing and developing advanced software solutions. His career began with foundational experiences as an intern, including a notable project at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, to develop an assistive website for the visually challenged.

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