Critically Analyzing Dijkstra’s Go To Statement Considered Harmful Recognizing the argument, determining the types of reasoning used, and identifying logical fallacies are important aspects to critically analyzing information. The paragraphs that follow provide a critical analysis of Edsger Dijkstra’s famous letter, “Go To Statement Considered Harmful”.
Recognizing the Argument In 1968, Edsger Dijkstra wrote a letter to the editor of Journal of the ACM entitled “Go To Statement Considered Harmful”. In his letter, he insisted that the future of programming would require a structural approach. Prior to this time, programmer’s use of the go to statement was conventional. Dijkstra argued that the usage of the go to…show more content… He argued that if he were to stop a program at an arbitrary place in time that it was of the utmost importance for the programmer to know exactly how his program reached that point and that it is duplicable. When an unstructured go to statement is used, it can allow the execution of the program to withdraw prematurely from a loop before it finishes completing. It also, can allow the program to arbitrarily jump into a loop that has already initiated the process of iterating, thus causing the programmer to have difficulty identifying a definitive answer to what the variables actually represent at that specific time (Tribble, 2005). Dijkstra described, “The unbridled use of the go to statement has an immediate consequence that it becomes terribly hard to find a meaningful set of coordinates in which to describe the process progress” (Dijkstra, 1968, p.147). Due to his discoveries, Dijkstra argued, “The go to statement as it stands is just too primitive; it is too much an invitation to make a mess of one's program” (Dijkstra, 1968, p.147).
Determining Types of Reasoning Dijkstra used inductive reasoning as a way to present his arguments against the go to statement. Inductive reasoning is “an argument in which the premises claim to support the conclusion in such a way that, if the premises are assumed to be true, then (based on that assumption) it is probable that the conclusion is true” (Herms, 1984). Dijkstra began his letter by declaring that the go to statement