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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Also, I think that this response actually validates Rubin’s thesis: Dijkstra adds repetition control flow statements to the mix. Dijkstra reminds us that it was originally proposed as a superior alternative to the clumsy use of multiple if s, goto s, and labels. Other for-loop variants test the control variable a. Using GOTO to implement structured programming constructs that did not exist in the language e. When this statement is actually executed, there is a point during which the previous value of n is read and 1 has been added to it, but that new value has not yet been written back to the variable n.

It is hard to end this with a fair acknowledgment. It’s worth noting that the coding climate has changed considerably since Some languages provide a continue statement for this:.

The reason for this popularity is that recursive definitions have a history of mathematical rigor – specifically, recursive formulas and recurrence relationswhich deal with recursively defined sequences wherein each element in the sequence is defined in simpler terms using previous elements in the sequence.

“GOTO Considered Harmful” Considered Harmful () [pdf] | Hacker News

However, he is attempting to go beyond simply tracking the location of the current execution thread, to making an explicit connection between a statement in the source code text and a program execution state. I’m rather surprised that the idea of a multi-level break, which has been proposed for more than one PL, has never really caught on.

GalacticDomin8r on Feb 8, Usually, people take into account as well the values of some well chosen variables, but this dijkstraa out of the question because it is relative to the progress that the meaning of these values is to be understood! These have remained pretty much the considerfd since their introduction at the advent of dijkatra programming.

The discipline of programming has progressed through several phases, with each new advance being touted as the next “better” way of programming.


gkto The example invariant he uses here is that counter n always represents the number of persons in a room. The reason is that goto statements require labels, and each label requires you to examine the entire program to determine what might have happened immediately before the label yoto executed.

The phrase “considered harmful” was used quite intentionally, as documented on the always excellent Language Log:. The comments associated with that post that post mostly repeated the pattern of the Usenet discussion: A major goal of all of this effort was to create dikjstra nomeclature that could be used not just for actual programming languages, but which also could be used directly for mathematical formulations of programming algorithms. Most structured programming languages provide a more complex iteration construct that allows a counter or array index to be incremented or decremented with each iteration.

Here, finally, we get to the crux of Dijkstra’s argument concerning the lowly goto statement. However, he states, once the programmer has written a working program, the actual execution of the program is entirely under the control of the machine harmfl.

Considered harmful

With these remarks in hand, we can look at continue statements. Note that the amount of work required to clean up after a failure is exactly the same as in Example E He points out that choosing this style of dialogue is ultimately counterproductive: Examples E-1 and N-2 demonstrate the corollary to this, that if a programming language does not provide reasonably powerful flow control structures, there are programming problems that can be solved reasonably well only by resorting to the use of goto statements.

Dijkstra mentions the design of the case or select control flow structure as proposed by Hoare and Wirth. The following sections discuss two major programming problems that traditionally have been solved by using goto statements.

Read idjkstra header block from the opened file.

With the inclusion of the repetition clauses textual indices harmfull no longer sufficient to describe the dynamic progress of the process. The set of flow control statements and clauses provided should be powerful and flexible enough so that a programmer can express his ideas clearly and succintly without having to resort to the use of extraneous control variables or to rearrange his code unnaturally just to get around the syntactical restrictions of the language.

Examples T-2 and N-1 demonstrate that Dijkstra’s maxim can be achieved provided that the programming language provides a reasonable set of control structures that can serve in place of simple goto statements.


Open the named file. Another parallel can be drawn between the formal verification movement and Newtonian physics. Dijkstra uses the term correct to describe a program that has no errors, or in current parlance, has no bugs. Some harful, such as Java, provide a finally clause as part of the try-catch statement to provide a way to specify actions that must be taken regardless of whether or not an exception occurs.

Obligatory Code Complete reference[1]: I’m sure it’s considerde the earliest example of this phrase used in a headline or title, either — I chose it only as a convenient illustration of susage a couple of decades before the date of Dijkstra’s paper.

Both forms replace the use of dijkxtra explicit goto, as shown in the following code:. A related programming problem is coding a loop to execute a portion of its body and then skip the rest if some condition foto, forcing the next iteration of the loop. But it is unlikely that you can do too much of a static analysis with a computed goto, and the latter is the most interesting and the most useful form. Some languages provide special syntax specifically for terminating a consisered in the middle of its body:.

Since he is establishing an explicit relation between a textual index and the program execution state, though, it would be more correct to think of the call stack as an array of statement pointers. Those who support the view that the essay attacks are more likely to dig in and defend their views by any means necessary, and are less receptive to reasoned debate.

I’d Consider That Harmful, Too

Dijkstra was very much an academician, tending cojsidered use technically laden verbiage in his writings. With goto statements, it becomes much harder to characterize how far a program has gone in its execution.

As soon as we include in our language procedures we must admit that a single textual index is no longer sufficient. This second construct is the most obvious replacement for the unstructured test-and-goto construct:. All structured programming languages provide some form of the if-then flow control construct:.