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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Couldn’t one just macro an implementation of such things that use goto underneath? Proving that a program fragment is correct and describing what a program has done so far.

Go To Statement Considered Harmful: A Retrospective

Biography of Edsger W. After each failure, however, resources must be deallocated. This is discussed further in Example L-1 and Example N-1 below. If the program contains loops, you can use a similar stack, with one entry for each nested loop. Allocate a control object. Currently working on “tooling” for HPC application, and use goto all the time.

Even keeping in mind that it was written with tongue in cheek, Mr Dijkstra does sound like a bit of a jerk in this paper. Thus, he argues, we should minimize the difference between the two when expressed as program code, so that the dynamic nonconstant aspects of the program are evident in the structure of the source code itself.

The author of the linked comment in fact complains that goto-less programming has led to the gratuitous overuse of subroutines. This rather pedantic issue is largely beside Dijkstra’s main point, which was that it is infeasible to analyze programs for correctness unless they use simple, nested, control gto flow structures.

Considered harmful

Annotations by David R. Goto can be very useful when used carefully, most often for a “cleanup” block, got used in the example above. Not surprisingly, then, much of the early work in computer science was undertaken with the goal of making computer programming a rigorous engineering discipline with a solid foundation in mathematics and logic.


How do we deal with goto statements when we are trying to understand what a program does? Modern goto-less languages, such as Java, include break and continue statements that can target dijkstrx enclosing block; many of the example programs that people suggest using gotos for end up basically using these forms.

Considered harmful – Wikipedia

This just means that the actual activity performed xijkstra a programmer is not simply writing programs, but controlling the action of the code as it is executed on an consldered machine. Their contributions were extremely instrumental in establishing computer science as a rigorous discipline in and of itself and algorithmic programming as an official branch of mathematics and logic. The set of flow control statements and clauses provided should be powerful and flexible enough so that a consjdered can express his ideas clearly and dijkstraa 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.

This is an observation that a single statement pointer is not sufficient to define the state of an executing program if the program employs subroutines variously known as proceduresfunctionsor methods.

In the absence of modern optimizing compilers this was very inefficient. Goto programming statement Wikipedia: These have remained pretty much the same since their introduction at the advent of structured programming.

Consider a procedure that performs four operations: When you call a function, you must remember where you were; when the function returns, you can resume from that point. Dijsktra was not arguing against GOTO per sebut rather against unstructured programming. My point was that in many domains goto’s are useful, both for solving problems, getting performance and for code clarity.

By pushing the opposing views further apart, it becomes more likely that the essay will cause considreed permanent break between opposing views rather than contribute to a resolution of the debate.


Andrew Koenig

On the surface, this loop is no harder to analyze than the earlier version–after all, it behaves in the same way. 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. His argument was roughly as follows. There’s also been a shift to using basic block-based optimizers, which means that the optimizer sees a loop statement and something built entirely of gotos as completely identical anyways.

Yeah the GOTO got a bad rap, if someone used it wrong it would have unpredicted results by goting to the wrong part of the program. This is not always a good assumption to make when designing a programming language. What Dijkstra means by the goto statement as it stands is otherwise known as an unstructured goto.

Dijkstra’s call for the complete elimination of goto statements is fine in theory, but would it work in practice? It cannot be overstated the importance of the work that Dijkstra and others C.

Again, when each loop finishes, you can pop the stack. Here Dijkstra acknowledges the influences that led him to his observation about the dangers of goto.

Have programming languages evolved since Dijkstra’s letter was published to the point that goto is no longer needed? 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.