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Debugging Process for Topcoder Challenges

By guestblogger In Community Stories

Posted October 6th, 2017

“If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.” – Edsger Dijkstra

Debugging is a must-have skill for every F2F competitor since most F2F challenges require to fix bugs in an existing application.

Below is a very simple & effective debugging lifecycle.

– Detect
In this phase you identify that the application is not working as excepted or for some reason it crashes.

You want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the issue is and how to reproduce it.

– Isolate
Once you have identified the issue, the next step is to isolate it to its root cause. Find out if this is a design issue or an implementation issue.

– Resolution & Recovery
This is the fix phase where you implement a solution that fixes the issue. In this phase you also have to verify the fix. If the fix is not verified, then it’s not fixed 🙂

Following are the “Rules of Debugging”:

  1. Understand the system
  2. Make it fail
  3. Quit thinking & look
  4. Divide and conquer
  5. Change one thing at a time
  6. Keep an audit trail
  7. Check the plug
  8. Get a fresh view
  9. If you didn’t fix it, it ain’t fixed

(source: http://debuggingrules.com/)

The above rules outline a simple debugging workflow and provide a set of guidelines for which every developer should be aware.

This article is part of the 5 Weeks to Learn Topcoder educational series. Want to learn more? Check out the entire series and all the helpful content here.


I’m a student majoring in software engineering at the University of Applied Sciences of Thessaly, Greece. At the same time, I’m a full-time reviewer, competitor & CAB (Community Advisory Board) member at Topcoder.