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Why is an arbitrary high number not a good practice?


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Over the years I saw in some answers that the use of an arbitrary high number [like in calculations] could not be a good practice.

Why not? What could/should be the alternative?

While I see in several custom functions the use of it....

Any example of the use of an alternative would be welcome.

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A calculation is supposed to implement the logic prescribed by the business rules set for the application. When a calculation uses an arbitrary limit - i.e. a limit not prescribed by the business rules - then it fails to express correctly the required logic.

This has two potentially harmful effects:

  • the limit is arbitrary, therefore confusing to the person reading the code;
  • the limit can be exceeded in some unforeseen circumstances. 

In some cases a very high limit could also increase the time required to process the calculation.


3 hours ago, Montana50 said:

Any example of the use of an alternative would be welcome.

A classic example is:

MiddleValues ( listOfValues ; 2 ; 999999999999999 )

The intent here is to remove the first value from  listOfValues - which could be easily accomplished by:

MiddleValues ( listOfValues ; 2 ; ValueCount ( listOfValues ) )

or even better:

RightValues ( listOfValues ; ValueCount ( listOfValues ) - 1 )

But the author was too ignorant or too lazy for that. As a result, the person reading the code started a post here asking:


I am trying to figure out what the "999999999999999" is doing here in this partial script please


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