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Last modified: March 28, 2020

In this tutorial, we'll look at the Fibonacci series.

Specifically, we'll implement three ways to calculate the *n ^{th}* term of the Fibonacci series, the last one being a constant-time solution.

**The Fibonacci series is a series of numbers in which each term is the sum of the two preceding terms**. It's first two terms are *0* and *1*.

For example, the first 11 terms of the series are *0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34,* and* 55*.

In mathematical terms, the sequence *S _{n}* of the Fibonacci numbers is defined by the recurrence relation:

S(n) = S(n-1) + S(n-2), with S(0) = 0 and S(1) = 1

Now, let's look at how to calculate the *n ^{th}* term of the Fibonacci series. The three methods we'll be focusing on are recursive, iterative, and using Binet's formula.

For our first solution, let's simply express the recurrence relation directly in Java:

public static int nthFibonacciTerm(int n) { if (n == 1 || n == 0) { return n; } return nthFibonacciTerm(n-1) + nthFibonacciTerm(n-2); }

As we can see, we check whether *n* is equal to *0* or *1.* If it true, then we return that value. In any other case, we recursively call the function to calculate the *(n-1) ^{th}* term and

Although the recursive method is simple to implement, we see that this method does a lot of repeated calculations. For instance, in order to calculate the *6th* term, we make calls to calculate the *5th* and the *4th* term. Moreover, the call to calculate the *5th* term makes a call to calculate the *4th* term again. **Because of this fact, the recursive method does a lot of redundant work.**

As it turns out, this makes** its time complexity exponential; O(Φ^{n}) to be exact.**

In the iterative method, we can avoid the repeated calculations done in the recursive method. Instead, we calculate the terms of the series and store the previous two terms to calculate the next.

Let's take a look at its implementation:

public static int nthFibonacciTerm(int n) { if(n == 0 || n == 1) { return n; } int n0 = 0, n1 = 1; int tempNthTerm; for (int i = 2; i <= n; i++) { tempNthTerm = n0 + n1; n0 = n1; n1 = tempNthTerm; } return n1; }

Firstly, we check whether the term to be calculated is the *0 ^{th}* term or

The iterative method avoids repetitive work by storing the last two Fibonacci terms in variables. **The time complexity and space complexity of the iterative method is O(n) and O(1) respectively.**

We have only defined the *n ^{th}* Fibonacci number in terms of the two before it. Now, we will look at Binet's formula to calculate the

**The Fibonacci terms maintain a ratio called ***golden ratio*** denoted by Φ*** ,* the Greek character pronounced ‘phi'

First, let's look at how the *golden ratio* is calculated:

Φ = ( 1 + √5 )/2 = 1.6180339887...

Now, let's look at *Binet's formula*:

Sn = Φⁿ–(– Φ⁻ⁿ)/√5

Actually, this means that **we should be able to get the n^{th} Fibonacci number with just some arithmetic.**

Let's express this in Java:

public static int nthFibonacciTerm(int n) { double squareRootOf5 = Math.sqrt(5); double phi = (1 + squareRootOf5)/2; int nthTerm = (int) ((Math.pow(phi, n) - Math.pow(-phi, -n))/squareRootOf5); return nthTerm; }

We first calculate the *squareRootof5* and *phi* and store them in variables. Later, we apply Binet's formula to get the required term.

Since we're dealing with irrational numbers here, we'll only get an approximation. Consequently, we'll need to hold onto more decimal places for higher Fibonacci numbers to account for round-off error.

**We see that the above method calculates the n^{th} Fibonacci term in constant time, or O(1).**

In this brief article, we looked at the Fibonacci series. We looked at a recursive and an iterative solution. Then, we applied Binet's formula to create a constant-time solution.

As always, the full source code of the working examples is available over on GitHub.