SO FAR SO GOOD!

Computer programming remains a challenge for many people. In the past several years, this has led to the popularity of software applications with graphical user interfaces (GUI), which circumvent the need to program. Yet programming remains an indispensable tool in research and other specialized applications.

In many instances, debugging a computer program requires uncommon analytical ability and a dose of patience. However, a debugging trick that never fails is to print intermediate steps until the source of the trouble is identified.

In the early 1980's, a student came to me with a partially completed programming assignment, and said, "Prof. Ponce, I have been looking at this program for more than two hours and cannot find the bug. Can you help me?"

I promptly replied, "You can't just look at the code. You need to do something about it." And then, I proceeded to show the student a trick that I had learned very early during my graduate school days at Colorado State University.

"Place the message 'So far so good!' as a marker in several critical parts of your code, and pretty soon you will find where the problem is".

The student followed my advice and in very short order the assignment was completed.

 

Two of more than one hundred check dams used by the U.S. Forest Service to restore and revegetate gullies in Alkali Creek, Colorado,

Two of more than one hundred check dams used by the U.S. Forest Service to restore and revegetate gullies in Alkali Creek, Colorado, in the 1960's (See related paper).