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Nov6-06, 02:21 AM
Sci Advisor
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chroot's Avatar
P: 10,427
There's not a whole lot that can be done theoretically.

Some errors need to be detected and handled within the bowels of an otherwise very clean algorithm -- and the desire to maintain code locality means that that error-handling code needs to be inserted right there in the algorithm. You would not want it to be hidden in some separate file.

On the other hand, it's best to handle errors at the highest level possible. If you can allow exceptions to propagate out of entire blocks of code, you should.

There are only a couple of ways to really "separate" error handling code. Validation of arguments is a good way to clean things up -- put all your type- and bounds-checking up at the start of each block. The rest of your code can then tacitly assume no errors due to invalid inputs are possible. Also, contractual assertions can also be grouped together at the bottom of blocks of code. These contractual assertions pretty much just make sure the block above them did what it was intended to do.

Both of these techniques require a very good design skills, though; few people outside of academia really write their code with such foresight.

You might be interested in some of the "cleanroom" software engineering principles, which can be used to mathematically prove that code does what it's intended to do, and thus eliminates many of the possibilities of exceptions. They require a significant investment of labor, however.

- Warren