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Paperback · 423 pages
ISBN 978-0-12-374515-6 [US]
ISBN 978-3-89864-620-8 [DE]

WHY PROGRAMS FAIL: A Guide to Systematic Debugging

"Today every computer program written is also debugged, but debugging is not a widely studied or taught skill. Few books, beyond this one, present a systematic approach to finding and fixing programming errors."
—from the foreword by JAMES LARUS, Microsoft Research

WHY PROGRAMS FAIL is a book about bugs in computer programs, how to reproduce them, how to find them, and how to fix them such that they do not occur anymore. This book teaches a number of techniques that allow you to debug any program in a systematic, and sometimes even elegant way. Moreover, the techniques can widely be automated, which allows you to let your computer do most of the debugging.

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2012-09-03: I now offer a free Udacity Online Course on Debugging, which neatly complements the book and vice versa. Enjoy!

2009-12-02: The second edition is out, and the site has been updated.

2006-12-30: A Google preview of the book is now available, containing excerpts of all chapters.

2006-12-03: Arnoud Buzing writes in StickyMinds: "With Why Programs Fail, Andreas Zeller has written a most wonderful text on the topic of systematic debugging...This is a classic book that I will place on a shelf near my desk as a reference."

2006-10-23: All code examples of the book can now be downloaded as a single archive.

2006-08-24: John Lam of Dr. Dobbs writes: "This is a practical book where you find excellent discussions, everything from tracking defects to debugging. If you want to write better software, read this book."

2006-03-17: Why Programs Fail has won a Software Development Jolt Productivity Award! This is a great honor, and I am deeply grateful to the judges and organizers for this result. My editor, Tim Cox, has been able to attend the ceremony and accept the award.

2005-12-24: Greg Wilson of Dr. Dobbs reviews Why Programs Fail: "This well-written, copiously-illustrated book is, in many ways, a status report from the front lines...instead of high-level handwaving, we get a detailed look at what particular tools do, how, and (most importantly) why."

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Comments? Write to Andreas Zeller <zeller@whyprogramsfail.com>.