Goto Considered Harmful [was Re: Python and the need for speed]

Nathan Ernst nathan.ernst at
Thu Apr 13 14:51:42 EDT 2017

Thank you for that Alan Kay quote. Brightened up my day. Since you also
mentioned COBOL, and this is a thread about "goto", reminded me of the
single most abhorrent thing I ever saw in COBOL (I had to convert a single
COBOL batch process to ASP.Net as an intern back in 2003-4). "MOVE NEXT
SENTENCE". What is this statement? An unlabelled goto. It literally jumps
to the next period: "." in the source.

Now, I'm fine with judicious use of goto with good labels. (and, I've only
used goto maybe 3 or 4 times in a 15 year career), but a blocky construct
like "MOVE NEXT SENTENCE" in a language that also has lots of (all-caps
required) block statements to jump to a tiny on the screen period...that is
just evil.

On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 1:09 PM, Rustom Mody <rustompmody at> wrote:

> On Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11:14:15 PM UTC+5:30, Steve D'Aprano wrote:
> > Meyer's "Considered Harmful Essays Considered Harmful" essay is
> hypocritical
> > junk, and should be considered harmful.
> Your view.
> Here's an alternative.
> [Sorry its a vague memory of something I read more than a decade ago that
> I cant
> trace again]
> Some unknown Cobol programmer talking about Dijkstra:
> Dijkstra used his enormous prestige to destroy Cobol.
> We lost a great deal
> What did he gain?
> Ok so Cobol's control constructs are below par
> But do any of its modern successors have its data-describing properties?
> [the PIC clause]
> Or consider(!) Alan Kay's statement: "Arrogance in computer science is
> measured
> in nanodijktras"
> Maybe that's a response to similar violent, unnecessary barbs from
> Dijkstra?
> --

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