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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You may think about this question in a very concrete manner: This obfuscation is a consequence of the fact that an unconstrained goto statement can transfer control out of a harmfu before it is completed, and likewise can transfer control into the middle of a loop that is already being iterated.

Other languages, such as Eiffel, provide a retry statement as part of exception handling to allow a procedure body to be executed again after an exception is caught, presumably after some corrective considerd are performed. That’s a very common C idiom.

Also, I think that this response actually validates Rubin’s thesis: Download the latest issue today. Modern Ada avoids Goto statements. The constructs are shown in a pseudo-language instead of any specific language. Dijkstra seems to imply that iterative looping inductive statements are intellectually harder to grasp than recursion, which is the kind of thing only a mathematician would say.

This style of error handling comes close to being as clean and succint as the style used in Example E Read the file header block if!

Read a header block from the opened file. This increase in complexity is a matter of fact, not of opinion; opinion enters only in deciding how important the complexity is. The letter has become quite famous or infamous, depending on your feelings about goto statements in the 40 years since it was first published, and is probably the most hsrmful cited document about any topic of programming.


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. That was consistent in much of what I read. I consodered ever use it, but when I do I’ll need it. These constructs allow for the loop-and-a-half situations that sometimes arise which is discussed further below.

Annotations by David R. It must be noted that Dijkstra’s final dijksrra on the subject seems to imply that completely removing all of the gotos from one’s own programs is a bad idea.

Go To Statement Considered Harmful: A Retrospective

Break is not a substitute for any of this use cases. Dljkstra what such languages lack in structured flow conssidered, they generally make up for by providing powerful dynamic programming mechanisms and extremely flexible non-homogeneous data types. So when you emulate the “considered harmful” style predicated on the work of djikstra famous computer scientists inkeep that history in mind. Notice that I said “when the loop terminates normally ,” because if there is a break statement inside the loop, it is possible that n will be nonzero when the loop terminates.

Conclusion – The Tao of Goto References. Dijkstra argued that goto statements were harmful because they complicate two important and related tasks: GOTO isn’t all badthough. Such techniques were designed to allow a programmer to construct programs in a methodical fashion that guaranteed that they exhibited correct behavior.

He points out that choosing this style of dialogue is ultimately counterproductive: The reason is – and this seems to be inherent to sequential processes – that we can interpret the value of a variable only with respect to the progress of the process. 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.

I would not be opposed to making the inner and outer loops separate functions with returns, either, though What the author said was true at the time, but has since been dealt with by having richer control constructs for goto-less “jump anywhere” programming. 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:.


The author of the linked comment in fact complains that goto-less programming has led to the gratuitous overuse of subroutines. 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.

Once it has been executed, the surrounding loop starts again just as if it had not been executed. A large part of the debate that followed the publication of “GOTO Considered Harmful”, and which smolders to this day, concerned whether there are any corner cases where gotos are the better choice.

Andrew Koenig

Apocryphon on Feb 8, This area of study shares much in common with the techniques of top-down design and functional decomposition. Thanks for posting Dijkstra answer.

This is designed to replace the multiple if-then construct, making it more obvious what the intended meaning is, i. Dijkstra’s belief that unstructured goto statements are detrimental to good programming is still true.

This type of use of goto statements is generally accepted as a “correct” use of goto. Roboprog on Feb 8, Maybe lexical scope for goto labels, rather than global symbols??? Coding Tools Building Node. Allowing unstructured gotos to change the course of execution could cause that invariant to become invalid i.