An empirical study of goto in C code from github repositories

Meiyappan Nagappan, Romain Robbes, Yasutaka Kamei, Éric Tanter, Shane Mcintosh, Audris Mockus, Ahmed E. Hassan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is nearly 50 years since Dijkstra argued that goto obscures the ow of control in program execution and urged programmers to abandon the goto statement. While past research has shown that goto is still in use, little is known about whether goto is used in the unrestricted manner that Dijkstra feared, and if it is harmful' enough to be a part of a post-release bug. We, therefore, conduct a two part empirical study - (1) qualitatively analyze a statistically representative sample of 384 files from a population of almost 250K C programming language files collected from over 11K GitHub repositories and find that developers use goto in C files for error handling (80:21 ± 5%) and cleaning up resources at the end of a procedure (40:36 ± 5%); and (2) quantitatively analyze the commit history from the release branches of six OSS projects and find that no goto statement was re- moved/modified in the post-release phase of four of the six projects. We conclude that developers limit themselves to using goto appropriately in most cases, and not in an un- restricted manner like Dijkstra feared, thus suggesting that goto does not appear to be harmful in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2015 10th Joint Meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2015 - Proceedings
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages404-414
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450336758
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 30 2015
Event10th Joint Meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2015 - Bergamo, Italy
Duration: Aug 30 2015Sep 4 2015

Publication series

Name2015 10th Joint Meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2015 - Proceedings

Other

Other10th Joint Meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2015
CountryItaly
CityBergamo
Period8/30/159/4/15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An empirical study of goto in C code from github repositories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this