Four causes of crash dumps

Obviously the appearance of crash dumps on your computer was caused by something. A bug, fault, defect or something else?

Aristotle suggested 4 types of causation 2 millennia ago and they are:

Material cause - presence of some substance, usually material one (hardware) but can be machine code (software). The distinction between hardware and software is often blurred today because of virtualization.

Formal cause - some form or arrangement (an algorithm)

Efficient cause - an agent (data flow or event caused an algorithm to be executed)

Final cause - the desire of someone (or something, operating system, for example).

We skip material causes because hardware and software are always involved. Obviously final causality should be among of crash dump causes because they were either anticipated or made deliberately. Let’s look at 3 examples with possible causes:

Buffer Overflow

  • Formal cause - a defect in code which might have arisen from incomplete or wrong model

  • Efficient cause - data is too big to fit in a buffer

  • Final cause - operating system and runtime library support decided to save a crash dump

Bugcheck (NMI)

  • Formal cause - NMI handler

  • Efficient cause - a button on a hardware panel or KeBugCheckEx

  • Final cause - “I need a memory dump” desire. Also crash dump saving functions were written before by kernel developers in anticipation of future crash dumps.

Bugcheck (A)

  • Formal cause - a defect in code again or particular disposition of threads

  • Efficient cause - Driver Verifier triggered paging out data

  • Final cause - deliberate OS bugcheck (here we can also say that it was anticipated by OS designers)

Concrete causes depend on the organizational level you use: software/hardware systems/components, modeling act by humans, etc.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ DumpAnalysis.org -

One Response to “Four causes of crash dumps”

  1. alessio porcacchia Says:

    interesting and cool
    but i don’t see the explanation for turing machine of two states
    for non congruent solutions on the set for all solution in base 2 :D
    obiviously
    where S(a) ={0,1}
    (for any) S(a) exist at least a solution exist a solution S(b) that is not a member for all the solutions S(a)
    the non congruent porcacchia’s solution for algorithm in loop or in a crash
    Cheers

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