back to article Boffins zapped '2,000 bugs' from Curiosity's 2 MILLION lines of code

With a $2.5bn price tag, a 350-million mile journey and 2 million lines of C and some C++ code, the only bugs NASA wants its Curiosity rover to find are those possibly beneath the Martian surface. And it may not be a particularly glamorous job, but software analysis outfit Coverity was the company tasked with "ensuring that …

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  1. g e
    Facepalm

    WTF?

    "That particular cock-up was caused by transatlantic boffins who mixed up their measurements in inches and centimetres."

    Need a bigger facepalm. How long has the world had metric standard units for now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      They don't know why Beagle 2 failed. They don't know if it landed safely and couldn't deploy its antenna. They don't know if the atmosphere was thinner than expected and it broke up on impact. They don't know.

      This is the first I've heard of any confusion between inches and centimetres causing the failure. If it was then that is something they would know because all they would have to do is compare the measurements since every measurement they used is written down.

      1. Code Monkey

        Re: WTF?

        The confusion between inches and centimetres is oft-mentioned but I still reckon it's "citation needed". As you say - they don't know.

        1. greensun

          Re: WTF?

          The know it wasn't confusion about units.

          The genius author made that up, maybe to appeal to Dail Mail readers who want to tut about what's wrong with the world, whatever the facts

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beagle_2

      2. Christoph Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: WTF?

        Actually they've worked out what must have happened to Beagle 2.

        It was built using the very best traditions of British engineering practice.

        But the unexpectedly high heat during atmospheric entry meant that it exceeded the working temperature of the adhesive on the sticky-back plastic.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Charles Manning

          British eh?

          How did they make it leak oil?

    2. My Alter Ego
      Facepalm

      Re: WTF?

      You're thinking of the Mars Climate Orbiter

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter#Cause_of_failure

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Actually, embarrassingly, it was the Mars Climate Orbiter that had cocked-up measurements. The Beagle 2 crash-bang-wallop was another story.

      The article has been amended. Apologies! it's damn annoying when this happens.

      C.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: WTF?

        Either way, the septics should get with the programme and join the rest of us in the 21st Century.

        And whilst they upgrade, can we please have our signs and limits change to km? Puh-leeze!

        1. Andus McCoatover
          Windows

          Re: WTF?

          Yeah, and can the US please follow the rest of the world and put ALL of its traffic lights where you really need to stop, rather than at the other side of the junction. Number of times in Irving, TX I've stopped at the lights, until I suddenly realised I was in the middle of the approaching road.....

          1. mIRCat
            Go

            Re: WTF?

            Traffic signals? Aren't those things only suggestions?

            1. Mike Flugennock

              Re: WTF?

              Traffic signals? Aren't those things only suggestions?

              Sounds like an inside joke my wife and I came up with while driving around Margarita Island, Venezuela on our honeymoon. They had the usual traffic signs, speed limits, traffic lights and such, but folks there were rather -- shall we say -- casual about paying attention to them. My wife and I began referring to them as "The Suggestions Of The Road", as opposed to the Rules Of The Road.

              The locals in many of the smaller towns on Margarita solved the problem of people ignoring traffic lights and stop signs and speeding through intersections by rolling sections of tree trunks into the centers of intersections, forcing people to slow down in order to go around them. Worked like a charm.

          2. Random K
            Trollface

            Re: Andus

            Missed the large white (usually reflective) line(s) painted on the road showing you where to stop did you? Shame that. Let's say folks decided to follow your suggestion. How exactly does one know the color of the light if parked directly under it I wonder?

            1. The BigYin

              Re: Andus

              @Random K - Simple. The blaring horns let you know when it's amber! :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF?

          No, if you're listening Mr Government, puh-leeze don't. There are one or two more important things to spend billions on at the moment (or any other time) than changing all the numbers on the bloody road signs, ffs.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: WTF?

            Actually, if it weren't for the xenophobic and dumber-n-soup Ronald McDonald Reagan, the west side of the pond would have joined the rest of the civilized world decades ago.

          2. The BigYin

            Re: WTF?

            @AC 14:28 (Why do people use AC? It's not like El Reg has a 'Real Name' policy!)

            It (probably) has to happen sometime and I will agree that the cost will be huge if done overnight, so don't do it over night. Have a transition period. And that period will take many years.

            Are there better things to spend money on? Not really. Oh wait, you're going to say "hospitals" and "teachers" aren't you? The money doesn't go to them though, it goes to the PFI providers (just ask the hospitals going bankrupt). And we probably need fewer hospitals anyway - concentrate all the knowledge down into a few centres of excellence to improve patient care; or would you prefer that children needlessly die because their surgeons do so few operations that they are verging on the incompetent?

            Maybe you'd rather spend it on the military? Oh whoops! Won't go to the front-line troops. It'll be trousered in PFI. Again. Or wasted on jets that are massively over budget and decades behind in development. Or compensation for cancelled contracts that were failing to deliver, or...

            Police? Maybe, but in a few years time that'll be a huge PFI hole as well.

            Trains? HAH! Do not start me on that corruption which is supported by our spineless regulator.

            I could go on.

            So in summary...spending the billions of finalising this nation as metric is one investment that might actually do something and not just enrich the money laundering, tax-evaders in the City.

        3. keith_w
          Devil

          Re: WTF?

          The "septics" - the poisonous ones?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Re: WTF?

          You could do what Ireland did for a while in the late 1990's (until full conversion in Jan 2005) and change all the road distance signs to Km but KEEP all the speed signs in MPH.

          It was pure genius... One of the many 'strange' decisions involving driving here over the years....

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF?

          "And whilst they upgrade, can we please have our signs and limits change to km? Puh-leeze!"

          No. The metric system is shit for that sort of thing. Indeed, it's not actually much use for anything other than programming computers because computers are dumb as all get out. Even then, many parts of the Imperial system are actually better suited even to computers.

          Basing your measurement system on the genetic accident of how many digits you have on your hands is no way to go about things.

          1. The BigYin

            Re: WTF?

            "Basing your measurement system on the genetic accident of how many digits you have on your hands is no way to go about things."

            Whereas basing your measurement system on the genetic accident of how wide your thumb is makes *perfect" sense?

            Any metric is superior to Imperial by the simple fact the scale is a consistent linear progression. Of course the current decimal metric is inferior to a duodecimal measuring system.

    4. Mad Hacker
      Joke

      Re: WTF?

      "How long has the world had metric standard units for now?"

      Yes but since when is the United States part of the world?

      Oh right sometime in the century 3000...

      Futurama:

      Leela: "Look, I know there are no car chases, but this is important. One of these two men will become president of the world."

      Fry: "What do we care? We live in the United States."

      Leela: "The United States is part of the world."

      Fry: "Wow, I have been gone a long time."

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: WTF?

      Because you can't have an empire without "imperial units"*

      *Although Americans don't like to call them that. They feel it sounds a bit imperialist.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But....

    They should have written it in <insert your language of choice here> cos I use that and its dead easy.

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: But....

      Hey I use <insert your language of choice here> as well!

      If I produced bugs at a rate of 1 per 1000 lines of code that'd be a vast improvement.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: But....

        I suggest COBOL.

        Computer Operated Bigwheel Overland Legobot.

    2. dotdavid
      FAIL

      Re: But....

      Ridiculous! <Insert alternative language> is far superior in almost every way. Only a rank amateur would suggest developing something like this in <insert your language of choice here>.

      1. Annihilator
        Boffin

        Re: But....

        Further ridiculous! <insert your language of choice here> and <insert alternative language> are for people who don't know they were born! When I were a lad we wrote <insert chip type> assembler code.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But....

          I knew a man who once programmed an AVR micro-controller using a compiler he wrote on a Palm Pre... weirdo.

          1. Lockwood

            Re: But....

            TRWTF is <your choice of language>

            1. Mako

              Re: But....

              TheDailyWTF reader detected...

              So TRWTF is, of course, Java.

        2. Christoph Silver badge

          Re: But....

          "When I were a lad we wrote <insert chip type> assembler code."

          And we programmed in ones and in zeros.

          And sometimes, we ran out of ones!

    3. Scott 19
      Devil

      Re: But....

      They should have written it in crayon cos I use that and its dead easy.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But....

      Nah, they should have written it in <horrendously complex bondage'n'discipline language of no-one's choice> because of how the <type system/contract system/complete absense of developers> makes it vastly harder to create buggy code, or indeed any code at all!

      1. Comments are attributed to your handle
        Coat

        Re: "horrendously complex bondage'n'discipline language of no-one's choice"

        Perl?

        1. Hungry Sean

          Re: "horrendously complex bondage'n'discipline language of no-one's choice"

          no, perl is more of an anarchist utopia-- the general complaint is that there's too much freedom, too many ways to do things, and not nearly enough whips and chains to save developers from themselves. I suspect the OP was thinking of something like Erlang or any other language where claims about "correct by construction", "provability", and "mathematical formalism" are major selling points.

        2. DJV Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: "horrendously complex bondage'n'discipline language of no-one's choice"

          Brainfuck - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfuck

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "horrendously complex bondage'n'discipline language of no-one's choice"

            Aww, you guys with your 'perl' and 'brainfuck'. Such charming naievety brings a tear to me eye. No, programming bondage and discipline is something else; claiming perl is b'n'd is right up there with thinking that 50 shades is a realistic portrayal of a sadomasochistic relationship.

            No, I was thinking more of Coq formal proofs and Haskell and Ada. The sorts of nasty, serious hardcore that will never be lighthearted fun, where there are no safe words to make the type system stop and when the amount of verbosity and ceremony actually leaves scars.

            Brainfuck indeed. You have much to learn, young one. Tell me, have you ever tried... category theory?

  3. leon stok

    Beagle ?

    Don't you mean the Mars Climate Colider ?

    (where it was a Newtons vs Pounds oopsie)

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Beagle ?

      Yep. That was the one that used the experimental lithobraking technique.

      PS 1 Newton ~ ¼ lb (this being the weight of one apple)

  4. E-Penguin
    WTF?

    Beagle2...

    Had nothing to do with Metric vs Imperial. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beagle_2#ESA.2FUK_inquiry_report

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Beagle2...

      Yes, you're right - that unfortunate misunderstanding has been corrected.

      C.

  5. MrT

    Misread the name...

    ... and thought the bugs had been sent to Coventry ...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Misread the name...

      But why that? To wait for Hermann Göring?

      1. MrT

        Re: Misread the name...

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sent_to_Coventry

        That, and my eyes play tricks on me... I once woke up with a very small pack of cards on my nose. ;-)

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Misread the name...

      "... and thought the bugs had been sent to Coventry ..."

      I went to Coventry once.

      Looked like a bomb had hit it.

  6. The Axe

    JPL Coding Doc

    JPL follow MISRA coding rules quite a bit, and the rest is to do with making the code as simple as possible. So no C gurus with egos the size of a planet allowed.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Really! I am amazed as this impudence!

    "ensuring that every software defect is found"

    Every? EVERY??

  8. ChrisC

    I wonder...

    ...how many lines of code are in the Coverity software, and what do they use to search for errors in that.

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