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If a real-time program goes off the deep end, the system can become unresponsive.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

This is one of several idioms related to the dangers of deep water. These include:

go off the deep end - lose one's temper, act rashly or get carried away with something
throw someone in at the deep end - put someone in a challenging position without preparation
in deep water - in trouble, in a difficult situation

Your example doesn't quite fit the usual meaning of the idiom. Presumably they mean that if a real-time program becomes overloaded or goes wrong it will make the system unresponsive.

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I'm only familiar with your first definition of go off the deep end. To be honest I think OP's usage is either a localised idiom, or a misuse, but it's obvious enough what it's intended to mean. – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '11 at 13:52

"Going off the deep end" just means going out of control. Synonyms are "going haywire", "going kablooey", and so on.

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