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Researchers seek simpler software debugging

Software bugs/errors are present in every piece of software. When you get a software error a lot of times it doesn't make any sense. So what's being done to make these software errors more useful? Andrew Ko has developed a debugging program that lets users ask questions about computer errors in plain English. All I have to say is that it's about time, assuming software developers adopt it.

Computer bugs, or errors in software, can mess up just about anything: They've been blamed for missing homework, blackouts, prison breaks and even the loss of multimillion-dollar space probes.

They can be costly to the economy -- almost $60 billion a year, a 2002 federal study estimates. But they're difficult pests to eliminate, because doing so requires programmers to perform "an elaborate detective investigation," said Brad Myers, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor. "You are trying to make guesses about where the problem is and prove your hypothesis. A lot of time programmers guess wrong ... and add new bugs because they were trying to fix something that wasn't broken."

But help is on the way. Myers and a graduate student, Andrew Ko, have developed a debugging program that lets users ask questions about computer errors in plain English: Why didn't a program behave as expected? Funded by $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation, Whyline -- short for Workspace for Helping You Link Instructions to Numbers and Events -- is designed for programmers of all kinds, from hard-core professionals to weekend Web designers.

News source: CNN

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