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Difference Between Exception and Error

Exception vs. Error

Exception and error are commonly understood to be two very different ideas. The concepts represented by each, however, aren’t always black and white. An error is interpreted as a flawed answer, behavior or approach, that is understood to be wrong – based on a rule, law or situation with which it is not in compliance. An exception could be seen as almost an incorrect behavior or answer, but not quite. It is an allowed or permitted behavior or answer ‘“ relative to the situation at hand.

In mathematics, exceptions and rules definitely do not stray from their black and white definitions. For example, it is understood and known by most that two plus two equals four. There is no exception to that. One would not allow an exception where two plus two would equal one, or three or five, or anything but four. Those would be errors.

Where an error is no longer is quite an error, and even becomes an exception, can be seen in an example of a man driving his pregnant wife to the hospital. Suppose he is speeding along, going way above the speed limit, and thereby making an error. He’s doing it because his wife is having contractions in the back seat and telling him to step on it, fearing that the baby might be born in the car instead of the maternity ward. Being a concerned father and supportive husband, he makes this an exception to his normal driving habit.

Soon enough, a police car is behind them with flashing lights and pulls them over. Upon investigation, the police officer, realizing what is going on makes an exception, dismissing the error (he doesn’t ticket the speeding driver). Furthermore, the officer himself makes the same exception, and begins to speed down the road with lights flashing giving an escort to the pregnant woman and her husband ‘“ zooming through red lights, making more errors, breaking more rules because of the extenuating circumstances at hand.

In summary, exceptions and errors are very different, and the two words don’t overlap each other. In some cases though, depending on the circumstances, the meanings are somewhat altered.

1. In the case of mathematics, errors and exceptions are black and white, e.g.: two plus two equals four, and will never equal one or three. No exceptions!

2. In the case of a human law, like the speed limit, a speeding car is an error. However, this can be made into an exception when the driver wants to get a pregnant woman, who is in labor, to the delivery room on time.

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