An Investigation of the Utility of Flowcharts During Computer Program Debugging

Gilmore, D. J. &  Smith, H. T. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies 1984 v.20 n.4 p.357-372

Summary: An experiment was performed to investigate whether flowcharts improved the speed and efficiency of computer program debugging. Twenty-four subjects were given six problems, each a program containing one error. The errors could be located by studying the behaviour of the program. The subjects were divided into three groups of eight and were given the programs either as a listing, a standard notation flowchart or as a Bowles structure diagram. No significant differences were found between these three conditions for any of the three dependent variables, but there were differences in performance between problems. The analysis of performance variation across conditions and problems implies that flowchart usefulness may not be a clear-cut issue. The results suggest that both the nature of the task and the individual programmer characteristics are important determinants of flowchart utility. A framework is presented which emphasizes these factors and which is generalizable to other aspects of programming performance.

© Copyright 1984 Academic Press