[plt-scheme] ATTN: Neil Van Dyke (and some philosophical musings on debuggers)

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 15 22:02:33 EDT 2004

On Sep 15, 2004, at 2:59 PM, Shriram Krishnamurthi wrote:

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> Eric M. Kidd wrote:
>> On the flip side, do debuggers make programmers sloppy?  I know lots
>> of Scheme and LISP people who think so, and Linus Torvalds seems to
>> agree.
> The problem with any discussion about "debugging" is that each person
> is either shooting at or firing from behind their own peculiar
> definition of that word, and often the definitions don't agree.
> At its very root, I think the claim that debuggers make programmers
> sloppy would be akin to arguing that endoscopy must make surgeons
> sloppy.  (Obviously ridiculous.)  The problem is in the details: the
> training, the extent of use, the diversity of other tools employed,
> and so on

Eric was probably using this as a statistical claim, saying that
many and possibly the overwhelming majority of programmers are
sloppy because they have debuggers.

Since you're shooting from your particular corner, I throw rocks
from mine. I agree with Eric. Specifically I believe that
  1. debuggers are necessary for certain situations
     (accumulator style, set!, threads)
  2. are unnecessary for a functional program almost all the
  3. using debuggers for program bugs in functional pieces
     means the programmer isn't thinking about the program
     but tinkering with it.

-- Matthias

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