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goto

<programming> (Or "GOTO", "go to", "GO TO", "JUMP", "JMP") A construct and keyword found in several higher-level programming languages (e.g. Fortran, COBOL, BASIC, C) to cause an unconditional jump or transfer of control from one point in a program to another. The destination of the jump is usually indicated by a label.

In some languages, a label is a line number, in which case every statement may be labelled, in others a label is an optional alphanumeric identifier. In any case, the destination label usually follows the GOTO keyword.

Use of the GOTO instruction in high level language programming fell into disrepute with the development and general acceptance of structured programming, and especially following the famous article "GOTO statement considered harmful". Since a GOTO is effectively an assignment to the program counter, it is tempting to make the generalisation "assignment considered harmful" and indeed, this is the basis of functional programming.

Nearly(?) all machine language instruction sets include a GOTO instruction, though in this context it is usually called branch or jump or some mnemonic based on these.

See also COME FROM.

(2000-12-13)


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