Debunking the 'Expensive Procedure Call' Myth, or, Procedure Call Implementations Considered Harmful, or, Lambda: The Ultimate GOTO

Unknown author (1977-10-01)

Folklore states that GOTO statements are 'cheap', while procedure calls are 'expensive'. This myth is largely a result of poorly designed language implementations. The historical growth of this myth is considered. Both theoretical ideas and an existing implementation are discussed which debunk this myth. It is shown that the unrestricted use of procedure calls permits great stylistic freedom. In particular, any flowchart can be written as a 'structured' program without introducing extra variables. The difficulty with the GOTO statement and the procedure call is characterized as a conflict between abstract programming concepts and concrete language constructs.