"Strong typing vs. strong testing"

Nick Keighley nick_keighley_nospam at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 30 14:36:17 CEST 2010

On 30 Sep, 11:14, TheFlyingDutchman <zzbba... at aol.com> wrote:
> > > "in C I can have a function maximum(int a, int b) that will always
> > > work. Never blow up, and never give an invalid answer. "
> > > Dynamic typed languages like Python fail in this case on "Never blows
> > > up".
> > How do you define "Never blows up"?
> Never has execution halt.
> I think a key reason in the big rise in the popularity of interpreted
> languages is that when execution halts, they normally give a call
> stack and usually a good reason for why things couldn't continue. As
> opposed to compiled languages which present you with a blank screen
> and force you to - fire up a debugger, or much much worse, look at a
> core dump - to try and discern all the information the interpreter
> presents to you immediately.
> > Personally, I'd consider maximum(8589934592, 1) returning 1 as a blow
> > up, and of the worst kind since it passes silently.
> If I had to choose between "blow up" or "invalid answer" I would pick
> "invalid answer".

there are some application domains where neither option would be
viewed as a satisfactory error handling strategy. Fly-by-wire, petro-
chemicals, nuclear power generation. Hell you'd expect better than
this from your phone!

> In this example RG is passing a long literal greater than INT_MAX to a
> function that takes an int and the compiler apparently didn't give a
> warning about the change in value as it created the cast to an int,
> even with the option -Wall (all warnings). I think it's legitmate to
> consider that an option for a warning/error on this condition should
> be available. As far the compiler generating code that checks for a
> change in value at runtime when a number is cast to a smaller data
> type, I think that's also a legitimate request for a C compiler option
> (in addition to other runtime check options like array subscript out
> of bounds).

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