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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In the absence of modern optimizing compilers this was very inefficient. However, to some extent Dijkstra’s principle has not been fully realized when we observe the complexity that must be dealt with by real-world programming tasks, such as multitasking, multithreading, interrupt handling, volatile hardware registers, virtual memory paging, device latency, real-time event handling, and so forth, just to name a few. For more complicated exits from loops, namely breaking out of a loop iteration that is nested within two or more levels of loops, more extensive support is required of the language.

Dijkstra reminds us that it was originally proposed as a superior alternative to the clumsy use of multiple if s, goto s, and labels. Isn’t the claim that goto statements are harmful just an opinion?

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. That is, a goto statement with no restrictions gooto how it may be used in an otherwise structured language.

Hoare, Niklaus Wirth, et al provided in the early days to the fledgling discipline of computer programming. This area of study shares much in common with the techniques of top-down design and functional decomposition. Alas, the advent of quantum mechanics brought about by the discoveries of Heisenberg, Bohr, and others comsidered an end to that belief with the realization that deep down at the particle level all physical behavior is inherently probabilistic and random, and therefore unpredictable.


As soon as we include in our language procedures we must admit that a single textual index is no longer sufficient.

Since C does not not have any kind of exception handling mechanism, well-crafted goto statements provide a reasonable substitute. In order to exit a loop conzidered without using such mechanisms, a trade-off must be made in which an additional flag boolean variable to signal completion of the loop is used.

However, “X considered harmful” was already a well-established journalistic cliche in — which is why Wirth chose it. In my last post, I mentioned a Usenet discussion about continue statements and their relation to goto statements, and said that almost none of cnosidered responses to that post went beyond the responders’ personal opinions.

Considered harmful

This possibility shows how break statements can make it harder to understand what programs do. This is generally true in most current programming languages, the majority of which operate in a linear, statement-by-statement fashion. Limiting the use of gotos to a few simple, well-structured controls such as exiting early from loops, error handling a.

This reflects the fact that, at the time, much effort was being made to formulate the best minimal set of flow control structures for programming languages and for programming theory in general. But it is unlikely that you can do too much of a static analysis with a computed goto, harmul the latter is the most interesting and the most useful form. Allowing unstructured gotos to change the course of execution could cause that invariant to become invalid i. The diukstra are shown in a pseudo-language instead of any specific language.

With each entry into a repetition clause, however, we can associate a so-called “dynamic index,” inexorably counting the ordinal number of the corresponding current repetition.

Github says 11 gotos in the kernel: He was probably right in this choice however, as the paper got enough attention to have a significant and lasting influence though we are not doing analytical verification to gto near the extent he demanded.

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Break is not a substitute for any of this use cases.

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

Nobody really wants to read “considered harmful” essays any more, consideered we’ve seen them harmfil 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. Add to that the possibility of non-local gotos, which are transfers of control out of currently executing procedures back into previously called procedures, which really disrupt the execution state by invalidating the values of entire portions of the call stack.

One can regard and appreciate the clauses considered as bridling its use. Please read our commenting policy. Didn’t they know functions in ? This is discussed further in Example L-1 and Example N-1 below. This construct is functionally equivalent to a do-while loop, but provides a clearer intent of the controlling entity the counter or index of the loop iterations:. So each continue considrred adds one and only one more set of conditions to consider when we think about what the loop does. Today’s programming problems are no longer gito handled by simple one-line-at-a-time execution programming models.

Each approach caused a paradigm shift in programming theory, affecting the way programmers wrote their programs on a day-to-day basis as well as changing the way programming languages were designed and the features they provided.

This style of error handling comes close to being as clean and succint as the style used in Example E Since then, programming technology has evolved through the stages of structured programming, top-down programming, object-oriented programming, component programming, aspect programming, and beyond.