switch statement

Computing Dictionary

switch statement definition

(Or case statement, multi-way branch) A construct found in most high-level languages for selecting one of several possible blocks of code or branch destinations depending on the value of an expression. An example in C is
switch (foo(x, y)) case 1: printf("Hello\n"); /* fall through */ case 2: printf("Goodbye\n"); break; case 3: printf("Fish\n"); break; default: fprintf(stderr, "Odd foo value\n"); exit(1);
The break statements cause execution to continue after the whole switch statemetnt. The lack of a break statement after the first case means that execution will fall through into the second case. Since this is a common programming error you should add a comment if it is intentional.
If none of the explicit cases matches the expression value then the (optional) default case is taken.
A similar construct in some functional languages returns the value of one of several expressions selected according to the value of the first expression. A distant relation to the modern switch statement is Fortran's computed goto.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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