The Way of Philip Marlowe: The Abductive Reasoning for Troubleshooting and Debugging

Working for more than 7 years in technical support environment I found that many support incidents were resolved more easily by abductive reasoning than by induction and deduction practiced by Sherlock Holmes and observed by Dr. Watson. Abduction as a way to build an incident theory to advance in problem resolution was practiced by a USA colleague of Holmes: Philip Marlowe. Because technical support is less detached from customers (”the world”) when compared to software engineering departments I see the way of Marlowe as more natural. Of course, from time to time the way of Holmes is also appropriate. All depends on a support case. I found that abductive reasoning is also appropriate for memory dump and software trace analysis where “leaps of faith” are necessary because of insufficient information. Such leaps of abduction actually happen all the time when analysts give troubleshooting advice based on patterns.

I plan to write more about the 3rd way of reasoning after I finish reading two Raymond Chandler’s novels and a few other inference, causality and explanation books I mention later: The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library).

I’m grateful for Clive Gamble for pointing this way out in his book Archaeology: The Basics

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

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