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Bugs in Hardware and Software — They're in There

Posted November 28, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

However much engineers might like the situation to change, finding the last defect in computer technology remains an illusion. This commentary stresses the point by invoking a couple of real examples from the industry's past, contending that the situation hasn't changed because hardware has gotten faster, memory has expanded beyond comprehension, and software has grown out of control. Faultfinding tools have improved as well, but the author claims that product complexity has always increased faster. The diagnostics can never follow every branch in every circuit or software routine. The challenge remains how to deal with the failures when not if they occur.


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#1

Re: Bugs in Hardware and Software — They're in There

11/28/2016 10:19 AM

There's more to the branching of modern applications than a series of "if then...else" clauses. Every application has many threads of execution running, multiple "subprograms". Each thread runs for a short interval of time, and then swapped out so another can run. These threads interact with each other and the environment (key presses, etc), and different results can occur depending on which is swapped out and when. With multiple processors, the situation is even more complicated. So it's more complicated than just looking at the code to see if each branch works as intended. An application can run flawlessly for a long time until a unique sequence of events occur. This sequence may never occur again and the exact cause of the failure may never be determined.

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Guru
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#2

Re: Bugs in Hardware and Software — They're in There

11/28/2016 2:04 PM

Hence, as fallible as I am, I still want to be the one responsible for piloting my automobiles.

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Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9192
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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Bugs in Hardware and Software — They're in There

11/28/2016 3:48 PM

Me too! If you don't want to drive, hire a chauffeur or ride the bus!

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