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15.2 The recursive-graph-body-print Function

The graph-body-print function may also be written recursively. The recursive solution is divided into two parts: an outside `wrapper' that uses a let expression to determine the values of several variables that need only be found once, such as the maximum height of the graph, and an inside function that is called recursively to print the graph.

The `wrapper' is uncomplicated:

     (defun recursive-graph-body-print (numbers-list)
       "Print a bar graph of the NUMBERS-LIST.
     The numbers-list consists of the Y-axis values."
       (let ((height (apply 'max numbers-list))
             (symbol-width (length graph-blank))
             from-position)
         (recursive-graph-body-print-internal
          numbers-list
          height
          symbol-width)))

The recursive function is a little more difficult. It has four parts: the `do-again-test', the printing code, the recursive call, and the `next-step-expression'. The `do-again-test' is a when expression that determines whether the numbers-list contains any remaining elements; if it does, the function prints one column of the graph using the printing code and calls itself again. The function calls itself again according to the value produced by the `next-step-expression' which causes the call to act on a shorter version of the numbers-list.

     (defun recursive-graph-body-print-internal
       (numbers-list height symbol-width)
       "Print a bar graph.
     Used within recursive-graph-body-print function."
     
       (when numbers-list
             (setq from-position (point))
             (insert-rectangle
              (column-of-graph height (car numbers-list)))
             (goto-char from-position)
             (forward-char symbol-width)
             (sit-for 0)     ; Draw graph column by column.
             (recursive-graph-body-print-internal
              (cdr numbers-list) height symbol-width)))

After installation, this expression can be tested; here is a sample:

     (recursive-graph-body-print '(3 2 5 6 7 5 3 4 6 4 3 2 1))

Here is what recursive-graph-body-print produces:

                     *
                    **   *
                   ****  *
                   **** ***
                 * *********
                 ************
                 *************

Either of these two functions, graph-body-print or recursive-graph-body-print, create the body of a graph.