Interview Questions

Preventing bugs

Why are there Bugs in Software?

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Preventing bugs

It can be psychologically difficult for some engineers to accept that their design contains bugs. They may hide behind euphemisms like "issues" or "unplanned features". This is also true of corporate software where a fix for a bug is often called "a reliability enhancement".

Bugs are a consequence of the nature of the programming task. Some bugs arise from simple oversights made when computer programmers write source code carelessly or transcribe data incorrectly. Many off-by-one errors fall into this category. Other bugs arise from unintended interactions between different parts of a computer program. This happens because computer programs are often complex, often having been programmed by several different people over a great length of time, so that programmers are unable to mentally keep track of every possible way in which different parts can interact (the so-called hrair limit). Many race condition bugs fall into this category.

The computer software industry has put a great deal of effort into finding methods for preventing programmers from inadvertently introducing bugs while writing software. These include:

Programming techniques
Bugs often create inconsistencies in the internal data of a running program. Programs can be written to check the consistency of their own internal data while running. If an inconsistency is encountered, the program can immediately halt, so that the bug can be located and fixed. Alternatively, the program can simply inform the user, attempt to correct the inconsistency, and continue running.
Development methodologies
There are several schemes for managing programmer activity, so that fewer bugs are produced. Many of these fall under the discipline of software engineering (which addresses software design issues as well.) For example, formal program specifications are used to state the exact behavior of programs, so that design bugs can be eliminated. Programming language support
Programming languages often include features which help programmers deal with bugs, such as exception handling. In addition, many recently-invented languages have deliberately excluded features which can easily lead to bugs. For example, the Java programming language does not support pointer arithmetic.

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