Elephant in Cairo - Wikipedia

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2022-01-14 15:00:08

An elephant in Cairo is a term used in computer programming to describe a piece of data that matches the search criteria purposefully inserted at the end of a search space, in order to make sure the search algorithm terminates; it is a humorous example of a sentinel value. The term derives from a humorous essay circulated on the Internet that was published in Byte magazine on September 1989, describing how various professions would go about hunting elephants.[1]

This algorithm has a bug, namely a bounds checking error: if no elephants are found, the programmer will continue northwards and end up in the Mediterranean sea, causing abnormal termination by drowning.

Thus experienced programmers modify the above algorithm by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.[3] The modified algorithm is therefore as follows:

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