So… this started as an article about why recursion doesn't work in React. It *looks* like it works, then you `npm run build`

, and it stops working.

Curious, right? Worth looking into, eh?

That's not the article you're getting. It *started* as that article, then I spent 3 hours building a Pythagoras tree fractal. It's 2:30am, and is my life even real?

Who the hell accidentally spends all night building fractals? Me… I guess.

Pretty, innit? Built with React, and it's going to stop working when I `npm run build`

. Still don't know why. I'll figure *that* out next week.

Here's how the Pythagoras tree works:

The construction of the Pythagoras tree begins with a square. Upon this square are constructed two squares, each scaled down by a linear factor of ½√2, such that the corners of the squares coincide pairwise. The same procedure is then applied recursively to the two smaller squares, ad infinitum.

?

That becomes four bullet points:

- 1 component called
`<Pythagoras >`

- draws rectangle
- calculates props for next 2 rectangles
`<Pythagoras><Pythagoras>`

Which turns into some 30 lines of code:

import React from 'react';import { interpolateViridis } from 'd3-scale';const Factor = .5*Math.sqrt(2);const Pythagoras = ({ maxlvl, w, x, y, lvl, left, right }) => {if (lvl > maxlvl || w < 1) {return null;}const nextLeft = Factor*w,nextRight = Factor*w,d = nextLeft + nextRight + w,A = 45,B = 45;let rotate = '';if (left) {rotate = `rotate(${-A} 0 ${w})`;}else if (right) {rotate = `rotate(${B} ${w} ${w})`;}return (<g transform={`translate(${x} ${y})="" ${rotate}`}=""><rect width={w} height={w} x={0} y={0} style="{{fill:" interpolateviridis(lvl="" maxlvl)}}=""><pythagoras w={nextLeft} x={w-nextLeft} y={-nextLeft} lvl={lvl+1} maxlvl={maxlvl} right=""><pythagoras w={nextRight} x={0} y={-nextRight} lvl={lvl+1} maxlvl={maxlvl} left=""></pythagoras></pythagoras></rect></g>);};export default Pythagoras;

Beautiful. Let me explain.

`interpolateViridis`

is a d3-scale that gives beautiful colors. Call it with an argument in `[0, 1]`

and it returns a color.

`Factor`

is the constant linear factor. We use it to calculate the sides of future rectangles.

`d`

is the diameter of the triangle formed by the current square and two future squares. More on that later.

`A`

and `B`

are angles for each future rectangle. Set to 45 degrees statically.

## Then we start drawing.

If we're in a `left`

rectangle, we set up a left rotation; if `right`

then a right rotation. `rotate()`

is an SVG transformation that rotates the current coordinate system.

To draw the rectangle, we:

`translate`

to`(x, y`

), that means "move there"- add the rotation
- now our coordinate system is moved and rotate
- draw a rectangle at
`(0, 0)`

- add two
`<Pythagoras>`

with new parameters

And that's how you build a fractal in React. It won't work in production, but it sure looks pretty on your localhost.

The animation is done in App.js with a timer that updates the `maxlvl`

prop every 500ms. Calling the root node of `Pythagoras`

looks like this:

<pythagorasw={100}x={320 - 50}y={480 - 100}lvl={0}maxlvl="{this.state.currentMax}/"></pythagoras>

Start `lvl`

at `0`

and set the `maxlvl`

. Those are important. At `maxlvl`

past 12 or 13, it stops working. It takes too much CPU power to ever render.

Yes, I tried. The naive algorithm isn't good enough. You could optimize by taking calculations out of recursion and preparing them in advance.

## The part I can't figure out

Look at Andrew Hoyer's Pythagoras tree. That thing is beautiful and flexible and dances like tree-shaped worm.

?

I can't figure out how to calculate those angles and rectangle sizes. I know that using `.5`

in the `Factor`

is for `45`

degree angles.

You can change the ratio by using a `.3`

and `.7`

factor for each side. Then it stops working with `45`

degree angles yeah.

Ok, that was expected. Since you know all the sides, you should be able to apply the Law of Sines to calculate the angle.

const nextLeft = 0.3 * Factor * w,nextRight = 0.7 * Factor * w,d = nextLeft + nextRight + w,A = Math.degrees(Math.asin(nextRight / d)),B = Math.degrees(Math.asin(nextLeft / d));

I can't figure it out. I'm pretty sure I'm applying the Law of Sines correctly, but the numbers it throws out are wrong.

Halp ?

PS: Here's a paper that describes using Pythagoras trees as data structures. Sort of.

## Learned something new?

Want to become an expert?

Here's how it works 👇

Leave your email and I'll send you thoughtfully written emails every week about **React**, **JavaScript**, and **your career**. Lessons learned over 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

### Join Swizec's Newsletter

And get thoughtful letters 💌 on **mindsets, tactics, and technical skills** for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

**Have a burning question that you think I can answer?** Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

**Who am I and who do I help?** I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with *"Raw and honest from the heart!"* writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

**Want to become a true senior engineer?** Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

**Curious about Serverless and the modern backend?** Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉
ServerlessHandbook.dev

**Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own?** Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand
with React for Data Visualization

**Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking?** Check out swizec.com/collections

**Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax?** Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

**Did someone amazing share this letter with you?** Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

**Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax?** Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

**By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️**