What is debugging?

Debugging, in computer programming and engineering, is a multistep process that involves identifying a problem, isolating the source of the problem, and then either correcting the problem or determining a way to work around it. The final step of debugging is to test the correction or workaround and make sure it works.

In software development, debugging involves locating and correcting code errors in a computer program. Debugging is part of the software testing process and is an integral part of the entire software development lifecycle. The debugging process starts as soon as code is written and continues in successive stages as code is combined with other units of programming to form a software product. In a large program that has thousands and thousands of lines of code, the debugging process can be made easier by using strategies such as unit tests, code reviews and pair programming.

Once an error has been identified, it is necessary to actually find the error in the code. At this point, it can be useful to look at the code's logging and use a stand-alone debugger tool or the debugging component of an integrated development environment (IDE). Invariably, the bugs in the functions that get most use are found and fixed first. In some cases, the module that presents the problem is obvious, while the line of code itself is not. In that case, unit tests -- such as JUnit and xUnit, which allow the programmer to run a specific function with specific inputs -- can be helpful in debugging.


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