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infinite loop (endless loop)

An infinite loop (sometimes called an endless loop ) is a piece of coding that lacks a functional exit so that it repeats indefinitely. In computer programming, a loop is a sequence of instruction s that is continually repeated until a certain condition is reached. Typically, a certain process is done, such as getting an item of data and changing it, and then some condition is checked, such as whether a counter has reached a prescribed number. If the presence of the specified condition cannot be ascertained, the next instruction in the sequence tells the program to return to the first instruction and repeat the sequence, which typically goes on until the program terminates automatically after a certain duration of time, or the operating system terminates the program with an error.

Usually, an infinite loop results from a programming error - for example, where the conditions for exit are incorrectly written. Intentional uses for infinite loops include programs that are supposed to run continuously, such as product demo s or in programming for embedded system s.

A pseudo-infinite loop is one that looks as if it will be infinite, but that will actually stop at some point.

This was last updated in March 2011

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