garbage in, garbage out

Cultural Dictionary

garbage in, garbage out definition


This saying points out the fact that a computer can do only what it is programmed to do and is only as good as the data it receives and the instructions it is given. If there is a logical error in software, or if incorrect data are entered, the result will probably be either a wrong answer or a system crash.

Note: The saying is sometimes shortened to “GIGO” (GUY-go).
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

Garbage In, Garbage Out definition

humour
(GIGO) /gi:'goh/ Wilf Hey's maxim expressing the fact that computers, unlike humans, will unquestioningly process nonsensical input data and produce nonsensical output. Of course a properly written program will reject input data that is obviously erroneous but such checking is not always easy to specify and is tedious to write.
GIGO is usually said in response to lusers who complain that a program didn't "do the right thing" when given imperfect input or otherwise mistreated in some way. Also commonly used to describe failures in human decision making due to faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data.
The expansion "Garbage In, Gospel Out" is an ironic comment on the tendency to put excessive trust in "computerised" data.
[Jargon File]
(2004-10-03)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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