# The Koch Snowflake¶

This project draws a fractal curve, with only a few lines of turtle graphics code. It assumes you know about for-loops and functions. And it introduces the computer science idea of recursion.

## The basic unit¶

Start the project by making an empty file `koch.py`

.
Right-click and open it with IDLE.

We’re going to define a function that *either*
draws a line with a kink in it,
*or* draws a straight line the same length.
Which one it does
will depend on whether the argument `order`

is greater than zero.
Type this in the editor, save it (ctrl-S) and run it (F5):

```
# Draw a Koch snowflake
from turtle import *
def koch(a, order):
if order > 0:
for t in [60, -120, 60, 0]:
forward(a/3)
left(t)
else:
forward(a)
# Test
koch(100, 0)
pensize(3)
koch(100, 1)
```

The symbol `>`

means “greater than”.
Be careful about the indenting (the spaces before each line).
You should get this:

## Recursion¶

This is where your head explodes.
You will replace the `forward(a/3)`

with another call to `koch`

,
to draw a kinked line of the same length.
That’s a line with 4 parts, …

- and each of those parts has 4 parts,
- and each of those parts has 4 parts,
- and each of those parts has 4 parts, …

Well, not in practice.
In practice,
the variable `order`

goes down by one each time,
and when it hits zero, we just draw a line.
**Change** the function `koch`

, just a little:

```
for t in [60, -120, 60, 0]:
koch(a/3, order-1)
left(t)
```

When a function calls itself, we say it is *recursive*.
*Recursion* can solve problems that simple iteration (like a for-loop) cannot.

Save and run. You will get the same two curves as before, because of the test code. But try this in the shell:

```
>>> reset()
>>> koch(100, 2)
```

Now each line segment has become a Koch curve. There are 16 little lines.

What happens for `koch(100,3)`

or `koch(100,4)`

?
The order 4 curve has 256 tiny lines.
One thing that happens is that it starts to take a long time to draw.
A call to `speed("fastest")`

before you start drawing will help.

## Need for speed¶

The drawing is still too slow once `order`

is 6 or more.
(The calculation is fast.)
The `turtle`

module wants to show you every change as it is happening:
good when debugging,
not so good when you just want the result.

We can delay putting the actions on the screen with the `tracer`

function.
But then we have to tell it to appear using the `update`

function,
when we’re ready.

## Looks like snow¶

The snowflake is made from 3 Koch curves. Although there are only 3 “sides”, it has 6-fold symmetry, like a real snowflake.

Delete the test code from your program,
and **add** this program at the end:

```
# Choose colours and size
color("sky blue", "white")
bgcolor("black")
size = 400
order = 0
# Ensure snowflake is centred
penup()
backward(size/1.732)
left(30)
pendown()
# Make it fast
tracer(100)
hideturtle()
begin_fill()
# Three Koch curves
for i in range(3):
koch(size, order)
right(120)
end_fill()
# Make the last parts appear
update()
```

Save and run. This should give you a big, white triangle.
Adjust `size`

so it nicely fills the drawing window when run.
Now set `order`

to 6 or 7.
Run the program and enjoy the result.

How many sides does this have? (Hint: every time the order goes up by one, there are 4 times as many.)