Go to Statement Considered Harmful

  • Edsger W. Dijkstra


For a number of years I have been familiar with the observation that the quality of programmers is a decreasing function of the density of go to statements in the programs they produce. More recently I discovered why the use of the go to statement has such disastrous effects, and I became convinced that the go to statement should be abolished from all “higher level” programming languages (i.e. everything except, perhaps, plain machine code). At that time I did not attach too much importance to this discovery; I now submit my considerations for publication because in very recent discussions in which the subject turned up, I have been urged to do so.

Key Words and Phrases

go to statement jump instruction branch instruction conditional clause alternative clause repetitive clause program intelligibility program sequencing 

CR Categories

4.22 5.23 5.24 


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  1. Wirth, Niklaus, and Hoare, C. A. R. A contribution to the development of ALGOL. Comm. ACM 9 (June 1966), 413–432.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Böhm, Corrado, and Jacopini, Guiseppe. Flow diagrams, Turing machines and languages with only two formation rules. Comm. ACM 9 (May 1966), 366–371.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edsger W. Dijkstra
    • 1
  1. 1.Technological University EindhovenThe Netherlands

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