A Strangely Familiar Error

by Jeff Atwood

on June 21, 2008

Geoff Dalgas, the newest member of the Stack Overflow team, shared this strangely familiar error message he ran into while working on another project recently.

stack overflow error

Ah yes, the elusive stack overflow:

In software, a stack overflow occurs when too much memory is used on the call stack. In many programming languages the call stack contains a limited amount of memory, usually determined at the start of the program. The size of the call stack depends on many factors, including the programming language, machine architecture, multi-threading, and amount of available memory. When too much memory is used on the call stack the stack is said to overflow; typically resulting in a program crash. This class of software bug is usually caused by one of two types of programming errors: infinite recursion, or very large stack variables.

You know what'd be really ironic, though? A stack overflow on Stack Overflow. Maybe that should be our 404 page.