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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Debugging Principles
3.
Scientific Approach
3.1.
Developing a hypothesis
3.2.
Falsifying a hypothesis
3.3.
Operating Hypothesis
3.4.
Testing out the fix 
3.5.
Slow Down
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Principles of Debugging

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Introduction

Programming may be easy or difficult, based on the programmer. There are several parts present in programming, and you might even excel in one of them and not excel in another. That is totally fine. But when you act as a proper developer or programmer, you have to be able to find problems in your program and engage in a debugging process. Debugging is a bit difficult. If you are dealing with a large program, then finding the error would be like searching for a needle in the haystack. But even if you do identify the problem, how do you deal with it effectively? Will your first solution be the fix too? Not necessarily.

Debugging Principles

Let’s say that your program encountered an error. So, what are the steps that you are going to take?

  1. Identify The Problem: Yes, it will be difficult. You will not be able to find it easily but the first step will always be to look for the problem. Check the program thoroughly and find the problem.
  2. Reproduce The Problem: This is a difficult step but a necessary one. Keep the root program unchanged and then, create a situation on a separate project where you reproduce the problem. It is in this project that you will apply the fix and work on to finalize a debugged program.
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Scientific Approach

Developing a hypothesis


 You have a problem in your hand but you are not quite sure about the solution. What do you do? Develop a hypothesis of your solution. You may have many solutions in your mind — but select the most appropriate. WRITE IT DOWN. Also, think of the hypothesis as a hypothesis — not a solution, not a diagnosis. It is a guess which can easily be wrong.

Falsifying a hypothesis

This is what we mean by the scientific method. In science, when scientists come up with a hypothesis but they don’t try to prove that it is right. Rather, they try to prove that it is wrong — they try to negate/falsify it. If it is negated, the hypothesis undergoes changes, until a non-negated hypothesis is created. So, come up with your own hypothesis and do your best to negate it.

Operating Hypothesis

Now, after you have applied all the different hypotheses, you are supposed to come up with a hypothesis that cannot be negated. This is a non-falsifiable hypothesis, your strongest one yet. Now, you can consider this hypothesis as a potential fix. Why is the word ‘potential’ being used here? Well, the fix is also a guess. It can go wrong easily and so, you cannot consider it as a diagnosis. Rather, you have to understand it as another hypothesis which stood the battery of tests and has passed to become properly tested as a fix. For now, this is your best guess — hence, your effective fix.

Testing out the fix 

Now, your hypothesis becomes a fix. This time, you come up with a new hypothesis: “My fix worked”. Go back to step one. Try to negate this hypothesis as well.

Slow Down

As you can see that the debugging process can get quite complicated over time. So, don’t rush through it — it will only cause more problems and slow down the debugging process. Go slow and be careful — it will increase your chances of becoming correct.

Refer to know about :  What is debugging

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