/dwim/ [acronym, "Do What I Mean" (not what I say)] 1. Able to guess, sometimes
even correctly, the result intended when bogus input was provided.
2. The BBNLISP/INTERLISP function that attempted to accomplish this feat by
correcting many of the more common errors. See hairy.
3. Occasionally, an interjection hurled at a balky computer, especially when one
senses one might be tripping over legalisms (see legalese).
Warren Teitelman originally wrote DWIM to fix his typos and spelling errors, so
it was somewhat idiosyncratic to his style, and would often make hash of anyone
else's typos if they were stylistically different. Some victims of DWIM thus
claimed that the acronym stood for "Damn Warren's Infernal Machine!'.
In one notorious incident, Warren added a DWIM feature to the command
interpreter used at Xerox PARC. One day another hacker there typed "delete *$"
to free up some disk space. (The editor there named backup files by appending
"$" to the original file name, so he was trying to delete any backup files left
over from old editing sessions.) It happened that there weren't any editor
backup files, so DWIM helpfully reported "*$ not found, assuming you meant
'delete *'". It then started to delete all the files on the disk! The hacker
managed to stop it with a Vulcan nerve pinch after only a half dozen or so files
The disgruntled victim later said he had been sorely tempted to go to Warren's
office, tie Warren down in his chair in front of his workstation, and then type
"delete *$" twice.
DWIM is often suggested in jest as a desired feature for a complex program; it
is also occasionally described as the single instruction the ideal computer
would have. Back when proofs of program correctness were in vogue, there were
also jokes about "DWIMC" (Do What I Mean, Correctly). A related term, more often
seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do The Right Thing); see Right Thing.
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