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Bugs, moths, grasshoppers, and whales
May-June 2008 (vol. 25 no. 3)
pp. 288
Erik Jan Marinissen, NXP Semiconductors
Popular wisdom has it that the term "debug" dates back to 1947, when a team working on the Harvard University Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator removed a moth trapped between one of the relays. The team affixed the moth in their log book, and wrote next to it: "First actual case of bug being found." The hardware equivalent of software bugs are design errors. Next to those, microelectronics suffers from manufacturing defects. The hardware community uses the term "debug" for locating and resolving design errors, and uses the term "diagnosis" for pinpointing the cause and location of manufacturing defects. But is "debug" really the best term to use? A bug is small and perhaps hard to find, but once located it is easy for a human to defeat. However, some design errors have consequences of giant proportions. Perhaps a better term would be "dewhale."
Index Terms:
Admiral Grace Hopper, Harvard University Mark II, debug, diagnosis, design errors, manufacturing defects, dewhaling.
Citation:
Erik Jan Marinissen, "Bugs, moths, grasshoppers, and whales," IEEE Design & Test of Computers, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 288, May-June 2008, doi:10.1109/MDT.2008.59
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