Thursday, November 20, 2003

On Heisenbugs

A Heisenbug is a software error whose presence is affected by the act of producing it. It is a bug that occurs in fielded software but when you try to simulate it in the lab it is difficult to reproduce. Mitul Patel, a student in my online course had this experience recently. They thought they remedied the problem but they had a difficult time convincing their management and customers that it was fixed since it was difficult to reproduce.

Heiesnbugs are not that uncommon. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with them or any personal experiences with Heisenbugs? It would be especially helpful if you have some strategy to test it and convince others that the bug has been swatted. Thanks for your input, later!

(Professor Bernstein's paper, “Software fault tolerance forestalls crashes: To err is human; toforgive is fault tolerant.” discusses Heisenbugs and can be found at my web site in the CS540 notes.)

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