Introducing Diags: Diagnostic Analysis Gestures and Logues

First, we introduce some definitions:

A diagnostic analysis action is a user interface action, a command, a technique, a diagnostic algorithm, a diagnostic analysis pattern.

A space of tools is a collection of physical and virtual (mental, imaginary) tools at some physical or virtual (mathematical) distance from each other.

A configuration of diagnostic analysis actions is a directed graph (digraph) in a topological space of tools or a diagram in a category theory sense (Visual Category Theory Brick by Brick, Part 3).

A diagnostic analysis gesture (diag) is a configuration of diagnostic actions across the space of tools and time, resulting in a workflow of diagnostic analysis actions.

A diagnostic analysis hypergesture is a gesture of diagnostic analysis gestures, a transformation of one gesture into another, between sets of tools, similar to porting diagnostic analysis patterns from one platform to another, for example, from Windows to Linux, or from one domain to another, for example, from logs to texts. We can view diagnostic hypergestures as diagnostic gesture patterns.

The “gesture” metaphor stems from the fact that despite recent automation efforts, the diagnostic analysis process is still manual when it requires substantial domain expertise. We still use various tools, graphical and command line (hand movements), and move in cyberspace. So, it is natural to combine all these physical and virtual movements into some abstract space path. There’s also a question of diagnostic performance (in terms of achieving diagnostic goals) and repertoire. Diagnostic gestures also include tool improvisation, data exploration, action experimentation, and aesthetics as well (coolness, for example). Some gestures can be used to discover analysis patterns.

Different mathematical approaches can be used to formalize Diags and HyperDiags; for example, category theory like it was done for musical gestures and homotopy theory for hypergestures (see The Topos of Music III: Gestures: Musical Multiverse Ontologies, Second Edition). For various perspectives on general gestures, please also refer to the opening chapters of The Topos of Music III.

Initially, years ago, we proposed thinking of diagnostic tools as arrows in a category of troubleshooting where objects are diagnostic artifact states (Category Theory and Troubleshooting, Theoretical Software Diagnostics, Second Edition, p. 105). Diags approach considers tools as objects.

Second, diagnostic gestures (and gestures in general) may be described using narrative forms, and we propose some new terminology here.

A logue is a narrative of diagnostic actions which that can be viewed as a langue from theoretical linguistics. It is similar to logs in their structure and allows the application of the whole apparatus of software narratology and trace analysis patterns similar to higher-order pattern narratives.

The idea stems from viewing catalogs of analysis patterns as cat-a-logs, a category of logs (and other categories of diagnostic artifacts and their analysis patterns in general), and the difference in catalog and catalogue spellings.

Finally, we also have dia-logs (dia-logues), dialogic actions between diagnostic analysis actors and logs (logues).