The rap against "while True:" loops

Tim Rowe digitig at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 19:30:50 CEST 2009


2009/10/15 Steven D'Aprano <steve at remove-this-cybersource.com.au>:

> Setting up a try...except block is cheap in Python. According to my
> tests, the overhead is little more than that of a single pass statement.
>
> But actually raising and catching the exception is not cheap. If you use
> a lot of exceptions for flow control, performance will probably suffer.
>
> In C++, exceptions are expensive, whether you catch one or not.
>
> Also, using exceptions this way is a structured form of GOTO -- it's easy
> to abuse and turn it into spaghetti code. Actually, not that easy to
> abuse, because you can't jump back into the try block. It's more like a
> multi-level break outside of a loop than a general GOTO.

I don't think it's *only* the performance thing, it's also clarity.
The understood meaning of throwing an exception is to say "something
happened that shouldn't have". If one uses it when something has
happened that *should* have, because it happens to have the right
behaviour (even if the overhead doesn't matter), then one is
misrepresenting the program logic.

-- 
Tim Rowe



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