While the anthill parliamentary debated ICO (Initial corner offering) to the law Covenant, an incident cryptomonétaire agitated the swarm of the developers of the blockchain. Last September 17, the code of the blockchain the bitcoin has experienced one of the biggest bugs of its history, making it vulnerable to hacking ! We can read in the press that the bug, quickly fixed, was hidden in the function CheckTransactions (a) of the code. What a beautiful leg ! No wing-beat of the part of the readers, and yet a question arises : who are these insects it ?

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We are on the 9th September 1945, and a scientist with the u.s. navy, the famous Grace Hopper, gives life to an insect it so that it carries out calculations on one of the first computers, the Mark II. Be reassured, Grace Hopper was not entomophage, or lépidoptériste, but a informaticienne who made the meeting despite it is a mite that is increasingly gaining ground in an electrical relay of the Mark II, and that blew one of its calculations. Grace Hopper described the incident in his book of laboratory in giving a name to the culprit of this failure to calculate : the bug (insect in English). Even today, the developers speak of bug to express the falseness of the result of a calculation without having to write errors in the computer code at the origin of this calculation.

The bug is human

Precisely, it is impossible to escape the code if one wishes to understand the bugs ! The image of a natural language, the computer code on which the calculation runs is written as a spelling and a grammar, which is referred to in computer programming by syntax and semantics. This code, once written by the developer is translated to a computer by a compiler (or interpreter) in a file written in binary language that only the microprocessor understands. This file, also called executable is launched by the computer to perform the commands listed in the code. The image of a spell-checker, the compiler can identify in the code it errors syntax and semantic that, uncorrected, prevent the code to be translated into binary language.

And yet, even properly translated, the code may contain logic errors that make the result of the computation false, we speak of the bug ! The bug may be due to a bad arrangement of the steps in the computer code, which are executed by the computer commands that are undesirable. The bug can also be because of the use cases that are not considered in the algorithm, and are therefore ultimately not be coded. This was the case of the first algorithms of facial recognition that omirent to consider black skin and that made buguer the software did not identify these people.

The bugs used to improve computer codes and develop best practices for programmers, who need to determine quickly and in a sustainable way these logic errors. Not to worry, these insects, now hidden in between lines of codes, sting in the future, but will be removed quickly and in the greatest calm !

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* Aurélie Jean is a doctor in sciences and digital entrepreneur, this specialist French algorithms has conducted five years of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On the same subject, Aurélie Jean : “What I learned from MIT “

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.