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Desk Checking Algorithms

The basic idea of desk checking is that you step through the algorithm step by step and document each variable and how it changes as it goes through the algorithm.

Lets take an example algorithm:

1

BEGIN displayGrade()

2

Input mark

3

IF mark >= 50 THEN

4

grade = "Pass"

5

Display "Well done"

6

ELSE

7

grade = "Not pass"

8

ENDIF

9

Display grade

10 END

Step 1: List the variables

Okay, first thing you do is list all the variables in the program. In this case, that is only mark and grade.

There is also, obviously, an output in any program. You input variables and output results in any program.

You also want to test a certain number of sets of data for the program. In an exam, they will normally tell you what data to test.

Step 2: Create the table

Set

Mark

Grade

Output

Step 3: The desk check

Now, you have to manually step through each line of the algorithm and record what happens (unless nothing happens). Our first set of data is going to be Mark=34

Set

Mark

Grade

Output

1

34

   

So, stepping through the algorithm…

Line 1 does nothing. Line 2, inputs mark

Line 3, IF mark >= 50 THEN Ok, so in your test data, is mark >=50? No, then skip lines 4 and 5 to the else statement.

Line 6 and 7.

6

ELSE

7

grade = "Not pass"

This is a change of variable, so you have to record it on your deskcheck

Set

Mark

Grade

Output

1

34

Not Pass

 

Line 9

9

Display grade

 

is your output, so place it in the output column

 

Set

Mark

Grade

Output

1

34

Not Pass

Not Pass

So, if you have multiple sets of data:

 

Set

Mark

Grade

Output

1

34

Not Pass

Not Pass

2

50

Pass

Well done

Pass

3

65

Pass

Well Done

Pass

So what about more complex algorithms?

Firstly, go through and list all the variables. Number of Trains Train Train ID Location

Firstly, go through and list all the variables.

Number of Trains

Train

Train ID

Location X

Location Y

X

Y

Now, a table…

Set

Number

Train

TrainID

Location

Location

X

Y

Output

of

X

Y

Trains

The question gave you the set of values for number of trains as 0, 1 and 2

so…for

0

Set

Number

Train

TrainID

Location

Location

X

Y

Output

of

X

Y

Trains

1

0

1

Train001

   

Location

Location

“Train

X

Y

001

at

X, Y”

   

2

Train002

   

Location

Location

“Train

X

Y

002

at

X, Y”

   

3

Train003

   

Location

Location

“Train

X

Y

003

at

X, Y” Never ending loop due to Number of Trains never equalling Train Number
X, Y”
Never ending loop due to Number of Trains never equalling Train Number

Train doesn’t equal number of trains (0 doesn’t equal 1, so the loop is entered)

ReadTrainID(TrainID)…there’s no sub procedure listed for

ReadTrainID(TrainID). You can assume that it’s just inputting the trainID. As we’re not given this value to test, we can either make it up, or just put in trainID. ReadLocation (TrainID,LocationX,LocationY) is giving us the train and, it’s

X and Y co-ordinates (location) As you don’t know what the next two subprocedures do, you can ignore them

and pass over them. A good desk check should include them, however, you’re not given enough info in this question to do it. Ok, you’re going back to line 7 in the algorithm, because you’ve finished that

sub procedure. DisplayTrainID(TrainID, LocationX, LocationY) takes you to line 17. So, the

output is “Train ID at X, Y” You then go back to line 8, train = train + 1, so train now equals 2

Go through all that again because Train<>Number of trains yet.

As you go through this, you notice that you keep going up in train Numbers,

but not Number of Trains, so you see that the loop will never end. Continuing the rest of the desk check:

Number

Train

TrainID

X

Y

Output

of

Trains

0

1

Train

LocationX

LocationY

Train 001 is at Location X, Location Y

001

 

2

Train

LocationX

LocationY

Train 002 is at Location X, Location Y

002

 

3

Train

LocationX

LocationY

Train 003 is at Location X, Location Y

003

         

Endless loop due to value of Train never = Niumber of Trains

1

1

     

Terminates without looping due to value of train = number of trains initially

2

1

Train

LocationX

LocationY

Train 001 is at Location X, Location Y

001

 

2

     

Terminates as Train=Number of trains