Go to statement considered harmful. Author: Edsger W. Dijkstra, Technological University, Eindhoven, The Netherlands View colleagues of Edsger W. Dijkstra . “GOTO considered harmful” needs to be read in its historical context, where structured programming (for Thanks for posting Dijkstra answer. One of the comments did mention Dijkstra’s article Go to Statements Considered Harmful, but aside from that mention, there was much.

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Dijkstra’s call for the complete elimination of goto statements is fine in theory, but would it work in practice? But here’s what they might not know about it: For reasons of realism I don’t wish to exclude them: Any of the four operations can fail, which causes the whole function to fail.

I’d Consider That Harmful, Too

More complicated forms, which are written recursively simply for the sake of being recursive, would be impossible to program on most real systems. Maybe lexical scope for goto labels, rather than global symbols??? Single tags These tags can be used alone and don’t need an ending tag. If the program contains loops, you can use a similar stack, with one entry for each nested loop. While he states that it has been proven that goto statements are in fact redundant in any given program, Dijkstra nevertheless admits that removing all of the gotos in a program will render its flow more difficult to understand.

It must be noted that Dijkstra’s final comment on the subject consldered to imply that completely consideged all of the gotos from one’s own programs is a bad idea. Other languages such as Modula-2 and Oberon also do not provide goto, but appear to lack enough flow control constructs to make it convenient to write early loop exits and exception handling code; it would seem that such languages were linguistic experiments that took Dijkstra’s maxim too far and failed.


It’s frighteningly common– there are now 28, web pages with the exact phrase “considered harmful” in the title.

GalacticDomin8r on Feb 8, Flow diagrams, Turing machines and languages with only two formation rules. There are three primary ways in which “Considered Harmful” essays cause harm. The “considered harmful” technique may have worked for Wirth and Dijkstra, but unless you’re planning to become a world famous computer scientist like those guys, I’d suggest leaving it back in where it belongs.

Error handling being the most usual. Note that, as before, the clean-up operations are performed in the reverse order that their corresponding allocation operations are performed.

There was much debate and discussion at the time about what terms to use for programming concepts, and most of the terms we use today took many years to be widely accepted. Dijsktra was not arguing against GOTO per sebut rather against unstructured programming. Nobody really wants to read “considered harmful” essays any more, because we’ve seen them a thousand times before and didn’t really learn anything from them, since we were too busy being annoyed to really listen to the arguments presented.

Moving the operations at H-2 and H-3 into the destructor allows us to write a simpler catch clause to handle failures. Today’s programming problems are no longer sufficiently handled by simple one-line-at-a-time execution programming models. In order to speed up its publication, the paper was converted into a “Letter to the Editor”. And so now we have — yes — return, and also break, exceptions, etc.

Other variants of the for-loop allow more than one loop counter or loop index to be specified. Thus a failure at point E-1 requires corresponding clean-up code at point H-1, and likewise for failures at E-2 and E Such an infinite loop could indeed be written as a tail-recursive procedure call, but what would be the point?

Most structured programming languages provide some kind of multiple selection control construct variously known as caseselectswitchexamineinspectchoosewhenetc. Also, I think that this response actually validates Rubin’s thesis: The destination of a goto is a label. The publication of a “considered harmful” essay has a strong tendency to alienate neutral parties, thus weakening support for the point of view the essay puts forth.


And of course asm, try writing anything in asm without jumps: Goto programming statement Wikipedia: This possibility shows how break statements can make it harder to understand what programs do. My only experience was making error handling easier to understand. Dijkstra mentions flow diagramswhich reflects the state of the art of program design at the time.

What Dijkstra said was harmful about goto statements | Dr Dobb’s

Then the resulting flow diagram cannot be expected to be more transparent than the original one. This makes a big difference in security and usability of GOTOs. Imagine the authors horror had he witnessed the use of properties in modern object oriented languages!

View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. They did consideed go much beyond stating the commenters’ opinions. As soon as we include in our language procedures we must admit that a single textual index is no longer sufficient.

Andrew Koenig

Dijkstra states a specific example of transferring control out of a loop or procedure during an in-between momentwhich renders the execution state indeterminate from that point on.

The exercise to translate an arbitrary harmvul diagram more or less mechanically into a jump-less one, however, is not to be recommended.

This is the in-between state he refers to, or a state in the execution between two sequence pointsduring which the variable n still contains its old value instead gofo its new value.

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