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Loony Tunes: Bugs blare in software set to music

Imagine a band playing "Here Comes the Bride" in the middle of a funeral dirge. It would be jarring, to say the least.

Now, British researchers are exploiting the attention-getting effect of musical flubs to highlight errors, or bugs, in computer programs. In a test of a new software-to-music scheme, student programmers found bugs more easily when they listened to melodies representing computer programs than when they used only conventional debugging techniques.

Software bugs cost some $60 billion annually in the United States alone (SN: 7/20/02, p. 45: Software bugs cost big bucks). One way to reduce that impact is to convert computer programs into music, propose James L. Alty of Loughborough University in Leicestershire and Paul Vickers of Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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