using recursion for factorial function

Hey, im new to the forum and c++ over all, i have been studying for about 2 months and currently im making a calculator with a bunch of different functions(beginner stuff), if anyone remembers form math factorial is shown as 5! which means 5X4X3X2X1 = 120, now i have been watching a video where it shows a example of how to do this, my problem is i do not understand the following code.

int fact(int x){
if(x==1){
return x;
}
else{
return x*fact(x-1);
}
}
this code works perfectly fine, what i dont understand is, if you call the function with int of 5, the first step is to check if x==1, it is not so it will return 5*fact(5-1) which is 20, when it returns 20, it wont be equal to 1, so 20*fact(20-1) is 19, but that is not how it works, im very confused by this, can someone explain me how this works
Edit: also if by the time the factorial reaches 1, it returns x which =1, then how is it 120
Last edited on
Let's say you call fact(5), something like this would happen:

5 is not equal to 1 so return 5*fact(5-1)
5-1 = 4 and 4 is not equal to 1 so return 4*fact(4-1)
4-1 = 3 and 3 is not equal to 1 so return 3*fact(3-1)
3-1 = 2 and 2 is not equal to 1 so return 2*fact(2-1)
2-1 = 1 and 1 is equal to 1 so return 1

That returned 1 is sent to 2*fact(2-1) which becomes 2*1 and returns 2
That returned 2 is sent to 3*fact(3-1) which becomes 3*2 and returns 6
That returned 6 is sent to 4*fact(4-1) which becomes 4*6 and returns 24
That returned 24 is sent to 5*fact(5-1) which becomes 5*24 and returns 120
That returned 120 is the final answer

Hope this helped you better understand the function
And where would the returns be saved, once it returns the first number which is 5*fact(5-1) , it would be equal to 20 right?, where is that 20 saved and how does the program know to calculate 4 afterwards if the return was 20
EDIT: Never mind, after the 5th time reading that i understood, thanks for the reply!!
Last edited on
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