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Debugging is the process of finding and resolving defects or problems within a computer program that prevent correct operation of computer software or a system.
Debugging tactics can involve interactive debugging, control flow analysis, unit testing, integration testing, log file analysis, monitoring at the application or system level, memory dumps, and profiling.
The terms "bug" and "debugging" are popularly attributed to Admiral Grace Hopper in the 1940s. [ citation needed ] The moth fit the already existing terminology, so it was saved. A letter from J. Robert Oppenheimer (director of the WWII atomic bomb "Manhattan" project at Los Alamos, NM) used the term in a letter to Dr. Ernest Lawrence at UC Berkeley, dated October 27, 1944, regarding the recruitment of additional technical staff.While she was working on a Mark II computer at Harvard University, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay and thereby impeding operation, whereupon she remarked that they were "debugging" the system. However, the term "bug", in the sense of "technical error", dates back at least to 1878 and Thomas Edison (see software bug for a full discussion). Similarly, the term "debugging" seems to have been used as a term in aeronautics before entering the world of computers. Indeed, in an interview Grace Hopper remarked that she was not coining the term.
The Oxford English Dictionary entry for "debug" quotes the term "debugging" used in reference to airplane engine testing in a 1945 article in the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. An article in "Airforce" (June 1945 p. 50) also refers to debugging, this time of aircraft cameras. Hopper's bug was found on September 9, 1947. Computer programmers did not adopt the term until the early 1950s. The seminal article by Gill in 1951 is the earliest in-depth discussion of programming errors, but it does not use the term "bug" or "debugging". In the ACM's digital library, the term "debugging" is first used in three papers from 1952 ACM National Meetings. Two of the three use the term in quotation marks. By 1963 "debugging" was a common-enough term to be mentioned in passing without explanation on page 1 of the CTSS manual.
Kidwell's article Stalking the Elusive Computer Bugdiscusses the etymology of "bug" and "debug" in greater detail.
As software and electronic systems have become generally more complex, the various common debugging techniques have expanded with more methods to detect anomalies, assess impact, and schedule software patches or full updates to a system. The words "anomaly" and "discrepancy" can be used, as being more neutral terms, to avoid the words "error" and "defect" or "bug" where there might be an implication that all so-called errors, defects or bugs must be fixed (at all costs). Instead, an impact assessment can be made to determine if changes to remove an anomaly (or discrepancy) would be cost-effective for the system, or perhaps a scheduled new release might render the change(s) unnecessary. Not all issues are safety-critical or mission-critical in a system. Also, it is important to avoid the situation where a change might be more upsetting to users, long-term, than living with the known problem(s) (where the "cure would be worse than the disease"). Basing decisions of the acceptability of some anomalies can avoid a culture of a "zero-defects" mandate, where people might be tempted to deny the existence of problems so that the result would appear as zero defects. Considering the collateral issues, such as the cost-versus-benefit impact assessment, then broader debugging techniques will expand to determine the frequency of anomalies (how often the same "bugs" occur) to help assess their impact to the overall system.
Debugging ranges in complexity from fixing simple errors to performing lengthy and tiresome tasks of data collection, analysis, and scheduling updates. The debugging skill of the programmer can be a major factor in the ability to debug a problem, but the difficulty of software debugging varies greatly with the complexity of the system, and also depends, to some extent, on the programming language(s) used and the available tools, such as debuggers . Debuggers are software tools which enable the programmer to monitor the execution of a program, stop it, restart it, set breakpoints, and change values in memory. The term debugger can also refer to the person who is doing the debugging.
Generally, high-level programming languages, such as Java, make debugging easier, because they have features such as exception handling and type checking that make real sources of erratic behaviour easier to spot. In programming languages such as C or assembly, bugs may cause silent problems such as memory corruption, and it is often difficult to see where the initial problem happened. In those cases, memory debugger tools may be needed.
In certain situations, general purpose software tools that are language specific in nature can be very useful. These take the form of static code analysis tools . These tools look for a very specific set of known problems, some common and some rare, within the source code, concentrating more on the semantics (e.g. data flow) rather than the syntax, as compilers and interpreters do.
Both commercial and free tools exist for various languages; some claim to be able to detect hundreds of different problems. These tools can be extremely useful when checking very large source trees, where it is impractical to do code walk-throughs. A typical example of a problem detected would be a variable dereference that occurs before the variable is assigned a value. As another example, some such tools perform strong type checking when the language does not require it. Thus, they are better at locating likely errors in code that is syntactically correct. But these tools have a reputation of false positives, where correct code is flagged as dubious. The old Unix lint program is an early example.
For debugging electronic hardware (e.g., computer hardware) as well as low-level software (e.g., BIOSes, device drivers) and firmware, instruments such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, or in-circuit emulators (ICEs) are often used, alone or in combination. An ICE may perform many of the typical software debugger's tasks on low-level software and firmware.
Normally the first step in debugging is to attempt to reproduce the problem. This can be a non-trivial task, for example as with parallel processes and some Heisenbugs. Also, specific user environment and usage history can make it difficult to reproduce the problem.
After the bug is reproduced, the input of the program may need to be simplified to make it easier to debug. For example, a bug in a compiler can make it crash when parsing some large source file. However, after simplification of the test case, only few lines from the original source file can be sufficient to reproduce the same crash. Such simplification can be made manually, using a divide-and-conquer approach. The programmer will try to remove some parts of original test case and check if the problem still exists. When debugging the problem in a GUI, the programmer can try to skip some user interaction from the original problem description and check if remaining actions are sufficient for bugs to appear.
After the test case is sufficiently simplified, a programmer can use a debugger tool to examine program states (values of variables, plus the call stack) and track down the origin of the problem(s). Alternatively, tracing can be used. In simple cases, tracing is just a few print statements, which output the values of variables at certain points of program execution.[ citation needed ]
In contrast to the general purpose computer software design environment, a primary characteristic of embedded environments is the sheer number of different platforms available to the developers (CPU architectures, vendors, operating systems, and their variants). Embedded systems are, by definition, not general-purpose designs: they are typically developed for a single task (or small range of tasks), and the platform is chosen specifically to optimize that application. Not only does this fact make life tough for embedded system developers, it also makes debugging and testing of these systems harder as well, since different debugging tools are needed for different platforms.
Despite the challenge of heterogeneity mentioned above, some debuggers have been developed commercially as well as research prototypes. Examples of commercial solutions come from Green Hills Softwareand Microchip's MPLAB-ICD (for in-circuit debugger). Two examples of research prototype tools are Aveksha and Flocklab. They all leverage a functionality available on low-cost embedded processors, an On-Chip Debug Module (OCDM), whose signals are exposed through a standard JTAG interface. They are benchmarked based on how much change to the application is needed and the rate of events that they can keep up with.
In addition to the typical task of identifying bugs in the system, embedded system debugging also seeks to collect information about the operating states of the system that may then be used to analyze the system: to find ways to boost its performance or to optimize other important characteristics (e.g. energy consumption, reliability, real-time response, etc.).
Anti-debugging is "the implementation of one or more techniques within computer code that hinders attempts at reverse engineering or debugging a target process".It is actively used by recognized publishers in copy-protection schemas, but is also used by malware to complicate its detection and elimination. Techniques used in anti-debugging include:
An early example of anti-debugging existed in early versions of Microsoft Word which, if a debugger was detected, produced a message that said, "The tree of evil bears bitter fruit. Now trashing program disk.", after which it caused the floppy disk drive to emit alarming noises with the intent of scaring the user away from attempting it again.
Computing is any activity that uses computers to manage, process, and communicate information. It includes development of both hardware and software. Computing is a critical, integral component of modern industrial technology. Major computing disciplines include computer engineering, software engineering, computer science, information systems, and information technology.
Computer software, or simply software, is a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work. This is in contrast to physical hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer systems, programs and data. Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.
Computer programming is the process of designing and building an executable computer program for accomplishing a specific computing task. Programming involves tasks such as: analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms in a chosen programming language. The source code of a program is written in one or more languages that are intelligible to programmers, rather than machine code, which is directly executed by the central processing unit. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task on a computer, often for solving a given problem. The process of programming thus often requires expertise in several different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain, specialized algorithms, and formal logic.
Code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code—changing the factoring—without changing its external behavior. Refactoring is intended to improve nonfunctional attributes of the software. Advantages include improved code readability and reduced complexity; these can improve source-code maintainability and create a more expressive internal architecture or object model to improve extensibility.
Static program analysis is the analysis of computer software that is performed without actually executing programs, in contrast with dynamic analysis, which is analysis performed on programs while they are executing. In most cases the analysis is performed on some version of the source code, and in the other cases, some form of the object code.
A software bug is an error, flaw or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways. The process of finding and fixing bugs is termed "debugging" and often uses formal techniques or tools to pinpoint bugs, and since the 1950s, some computer systems have been designed to also deter, detect or auto-correct various computer bugs during operations.
Regression testing is re-running functional and non-functional tests to ensure that previously developed and tested software still performs after a change. If not, that would be called a regression. Changes that may require regression testing include bug fixes, software enhancements, configuration changes, and even substitution of electronic components. As regression test suites tend to grow with each found defect, test automation is frequently involved. Sometimes a change impact analysis is performed to determine an appropriate subset of tests.
An embedded system is a computer system—a combination of a computer processor, computer memory, and input/output peripheral devices—that has a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electrical system. It is embedded as part of a complete device often including electrical or electronic hardware and mechanical parts. Because an embedded system typically controls physical operations of the machine that it is embedded within, it often has real-time computing constraints. Embedded systems control many devices in common use today. Ninety-eight percent of all microprocessors manufactured are used in embedded systems.
A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program used to test and debug other programs. The main use of a debugger is to run the target program under controlled conditions that permit the programmer to track its operations in progress and monitor changes in computer resources that may indicate malfunctioning code. Typical debugging facilities include the ability to run or halt the target program at specific points, display the contents of memory, CPU registers or storage devices, and modify memory or register contents in order to enter selected test data that might be a cause of faulty program execution.
Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, or other software components. Software development is a process of writing and maintaining the source code, but in a broader sense, it includes all that is involved between the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software, sometimes in a planned and structured process. Therefore, software development may include research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or any other activities that result in software products.
In-circuit emulation (ICE) is the use of a hardware device or in-circuit emulator used to debug the software of an embedded system. It operates by using a processor with the additional ability to support debugging operations, as well as to carry out the main function of the system. Particularly for older systems, with limited processors, this usually involved replacing the processor temporarily with a hardware emulator: a more powerful although more expensive version. It was historically in the form of bond-out processor which has many internal signals brought out for the purpose of debugging. These signals provide information about the state of the processor.
A programming tool or software development tool is a computer program that software developers use to create, debug, maintain, or otherwise support other programs and applications. The term usually refers to relatively simple programs, that can be combined together to accomplish a task, much as one might use multiple hand tools to fix a physical object. The most basic tools are a source code editor and a compiler or interpreter, which are used ubiquitously and continuously. Other tools are used more or less depending on the language, development methodology, and individual engineer, and are often used for a discrete task, like a debugger or profiler. Tools may be discrete programs, executed separately – often from the command line – or may be parts of a single large program, called an integrated development environment (IDE). In many cases, particularly for simpler use, simple ad hoc techniques are used instead of a tool, such as print debugging instead of using a debugger, manual timing instead of a profiler, or tracking bugs in a text file or spreadsheet instead of a bug tracking system.
A memory debugger is a debugger for finding software memory problems such as memory leaks and buffer overflows. These are due to bugs related to the allocation and deallocation of dynamic memory. Programs written in languages that have garbage collection, such as managed code, might also need memory debuggers, e.g. for memory leaks due to "living" references in collections.
Code review is a software quality assurance activity in which one or several people check a program mainly by viewing and reading parts of its source code, and they do so after implementation or as an interruption of implementation. At least one of the persons must not be the code's author. The persons performing the checking, excluding the author, are called "reviewers".
The worst-case execution time (WCET) of a computational task is the maximum length of time the task could take to execute on a specific hardware platform.
An instruction set simulator (ISS) is a simulation model, usually coded in a high-level programming language, which mimics the behavior of a mainframe or microprocessor by "reading" instructions and maintaining internal variables which represent the processor's registers.
In computer programming jargon, a heisenbug is a software bug that seems to disappear or alter its behavior when one attempts to study it. The term is a pun on the name of Werner Heisenberg, the physicist who first asserted the observer effect of quantum mechanics, which states that the act of observing a system inevitably alters its state. In electronics the traditional term is probe effect, where attaching a test probe to a device changes its behavior.
In software engineering, tracing involves a specialized use of logging to record information about a program's execution. This information is typically used by programmers for debugging purposes, and additionally, depending on the type and detail of information contained in a trace log, by experienced system administrators or technical-support personnel and by software monitoring tools to diagnose common problems with software. Tracing is a cross-cutting concern.
Software archaeology or software archeology is the study of poorly documented or undocumented legacy software implementations, as part of software maintenance. Software archaeology, named by analogy with archaeology, includes the reverse engineering of software modules, and the application of a variety of tools and processes for extracting and understanding program structure and recovering design information. Software archaeology may reveal dysfunctional team processes which have produced poorly designed or even unused software modules. The term has been in use for decades, and reflects a fairly natural metaphor: a programmer reading legacy code may feel that he or she is in the same situation as an archaeologist exploring the rubble of an ancient civilization.
Automatic bug-fixing is the automatic repair of software bugs without the intervention of a human programmer. It is also commonly referred to as automatic patch generation, automatic bug repair, or automatic program repair. The typical goal of such techniques is to automatically generate correct patches to eliminate bugs in software programs without causing software regression.
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