Reader response to: The science of software development

October 11, 2021
"Debugging is the act of answering questions and then answering them. Not: guessing what the answer is."

Last week I wrote about ways in which the scientific method is used every day in software development. Fellow reader Pieter-Jan Smets wrote in with an obvious example I had missed:

Hi Jonathan,

I always consider debugging a good “application” of the scientific method. Brian Cantrill said in one of his talks on youtube:

“Debugging is the act of answering questions and then answering them. Not: guessing what the answer is.”

I fully agree with that statement, and it comes down to applying the scientific method. Making a hypothesis about what the cause of the bug/failure/… could be, and then verifying your assumption.

Regards,
PJ

Kudos to Pieter-Jan, and originally Brian Cantrill, for the excellent point!

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