[speak]

Thurman Speaks About Garbage In, Garbage Out

There is an old computer saying that has been true since the first days of computing: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). If the inputs to a program are wrong, then most programs will generate wrong output. Many computer users un-conditionally trust the program's output to be correct. [GIGO -- Garbage In, Gospel Out]

Dennis Ritchie quote: "A program designed for inputs from people is usually stressed beyond the breaking point by computer-generated inputs."

In a few weeks it will be Summer Break 2002. During the break I am going to allocate time to pick up the litter that lines our roads. I am hoping to do this few days a week sometime during the middle of the day. [I'm thinking high-noon would be nice.] But today (24 March 2002) I read a story that puts a damper on what I want to do:

	Roadsides going to waste

	Cleanup crews finding suprises 
	of a nasty kind

The details are poop-related and I don't want to go into details. [Too bad, because Everyone Poops.]

My best summer job from my college days was being a garbage man. This job taught me that garbage to one person may be good stuff to another. The garbage located along our roadsides is exactly that -- garbage.

A computer programmer needs to worry about accepting garbage into their program. If they do, then they better do a good job of handling that garbage. A program that outputs garbage is exactly that -- garbage.

In some cases, garbage programs can be re-cycled and made into useful tools, but in most cases these garbaged programs are like the worthless stuff found along our roadsides.

Garbage is found everywhere. Look at the bottom-left corner of this picture. There are a lot of garabage programs being used day in and day out. These programs are great making sure garbage in, garbage out is always true.


Author: G.D.Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Created: 24 Mar 2002