Definition

garbage in, garbage out (GIGO)

GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) is a concept common to computer science and mathematics: the quality of output is determined by the quality of the input. So, for example, if a mathematical equation is improperly stated, the answer is unlikely to be correct. Similarly, if incorrect data is input to a program, the output is unlikely to be informative.

George Fuechsel, an early IBM programmer and instructor, is generally given credit for coining the term. Fuechsel is said to have used "garbage in, garbage out" as a concise way of reminding his students that a computer just processes what it is given. The term is now widely used in computer science classes, IT services and elsewhere. In fact, GIGO is sometimes used to refer to situations in the analog world, such as a faulty decision made as a result of incomplete information.

A variation on the term, "garbage in, gospel out," refers to a tendency to put unwarranted faith in the accuracy of computer-generated data.

This was last updated in March 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Email Alerts

Register now to receive SearchSoftwareQuality.com-related news, tips and more, delivered to your inbox.
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

More News and Tutorials

Do you have something to add to this definition? Let us know.

Send your comments to techterms@whatis.com

There are Comments. Add yours.

 
TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: