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Characteristics of Robust Programs

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we will give a definition of a computer program and describe some of the characteristics that make a computer program a robust computer program.

Perpetual Motion

We live in a world that is constantly in motion. In fact, some say it moves twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. It isn't so hard to imagine. Just look at how busy you are. We also expect the technology in our world to move at the same speed. But there is a price, a toll we must pay for that ability. No pausing for a breather, and no stopping for faults or failures! It follows that this applies to our computer systems and the programs that make them run. As a result, we apply terms like robustness to describe this ability.

What is a Program?

A program is a collection of commands that a computer executes in order to perform some focused activity. Some contain only a few of these commands, while others contain hundreds, if not thousands. Regardless of the size, programs provide the game plan a computer system needs to be effective at whatever task is required of it. For example, the development teams at Microsoft have created Windows, a program that controls the basic operation of a computer. And they are not alone, similar teams exist at Apple for MAC OS and companies like Red Hat for Linux. These are only a small sample, as programs form a fundamental part of a computer's ecosystem.

What Does It Mean to Be Robust?

The term robust is used to describe something that is lively, strong, or steadfast. For example, one might consider a table robust if it has thick, sturdy legs and a solid top. It can also mean that something has the ability to perform without failure under a variety of conditions. Your vehicle might be considered robust if it starts every day and gets you to work without incident, rain, shine or snow. Robustness is a measure of how well something performs the task it was designed to undertake.

Characteristics of a Robust Program

With respect to a computer program, the term robust is used in a similar fashion. It describes the ability of a program to handle the many inputs (good and bad) that can affect its operation. As such, some of the more notable characteristics that a robust program includes are:

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