Software Debugging: Errors in Logical and Analytical Reasoning – Metzger’s Collation

Posted on July 28, 2010


Author:  Sanjay Goel,


With specific reference to Software Debugging, Metzger collated research based findings regarding errors in logical and analytical reasoning:

1      Misdirected focus – tendency to focus on interesting rather than logically important aspects of the problem.

2      Storage limitation – storage capacity of conscious mind is extremely limited; hence, the presentation of problem can have a great impact on the ability to store all the relevant information as conscious mind reasons through a problem.

3      Information availability – people give too much weight to facts that readily come to their mind, and have a tendency to ignore information that is not readily accessible.

4      Hypothesis persistence – preliminary hypothesis formed on the basis of incomplete data early, in the problem solving process are retained in the face of additional, more complete data available later.

5      Selective support – people are often overconfident of their information. They justify their plans by focusing on their information and often ignore information that does not support their plan.

6      Limited reviewing – people do not consider all the aspects during review. Even when they do, they fail to see the aspects as an integrated whole.

7      Inadequate data – people are very likely to draw conclusions from inadequate data.

8      Multiple variables – people tend to predict extreme values for partially related variables.

9      Misplaced causality – people are likely to judge causality based on their perception of the similarity between a potential cause and its effect.

10  Dealing with complexity – people have trouble thinking about complex processes that occur over time, and prefer to deal with a single moment. They also have difficulty in dealing with nonlinearity and multiple side effects.

11    Decision and probability – people don’t make good decisions in circumstances that require assessing probabilities.


1.  Metzger, R.C., Debugging by Thinking: A multi-disciplinary approach, Hewlett Packard Development Company and Elsevier Digital Press, 2004.


3.   Software Development Activities: A Catalogue of Technical and Technically Oriented Activities

4.  Some Theories on Attention

5.   A Catalogue of Software Bugs-I: Bugs Grounded in Common Misconceptions About Programming





Keywords: Software Engineering Education, Computing Education, Computer Science Education, Engineering Education, Information Technology Education, Information Systems Education, College Education, Higher Education, Professional Education


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