What are the types of errors in computer programming

timer Asked: May 4th, 2014
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Question Description

What are the types of errors in computer programming and how they can be located?

Tutor Answer

School: Cornell University

Types of Errors

Three types of errors

There are basically three types of errors that you must contend with when writing computer programs:

  • Syntax errors
  • Runtime errors
  • Logic errors

Generally speaking, the errors become more difficult to find and fix as you move down the above list.

Syntax errors

In effect, syntax errors represent grammar errors in the use of the programming language.  Common examples are:

  • Misspelled variable and function names
  • Missing semicolons
  • Improperly matches parentheses, square brackets, and curly braces
  • Incorrect format in selection and loop statements

Runtime errors

Runtime errors occur when a program with no syntax errors asks the computer to do something that the computer is unable to reliably do.  Common examples are:

  • Trying to divide by a variable that contains a value of zero
  • Trying to open a file that doesn't exist

There is no way for the compiler to know about these kinds of errors when the program is compiled.

Logic errors

Logic errors occur when there is a design flaw in your program.  Common examples are:

  • Multiplying when you should be dividing
  • Adding when you should be subtracting
  • Opening and using data from the wrong file
  • Displaying the wrong message

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