This week's book giveaway is in the Design forum.
We're giving away four copies of Design for the Mind and have Victor S. Yocco on-line!
See this thread for details.
Win a copy of Design for the Mind this week in the Design forum!
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

The XY problem

 
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 15214
36
Android IntelliJ IDE Java Scala Spring
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Today I learned a new term: the XY problem.

It happens on the forums here regularly. What it means is that you have some problem X, and you try to solve it with the wrong solution Y. You then start asking questions about solution Y, instead of explaining that your real problem is X.
 
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender
Pie
Posts: 12097
30
Chrome Java Linux
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm so glad there is finally a name for it. I see it all the time here...and it is extremely frustrating to spend a significant amount of time helping someone with their 'Y' issue, only to find out hours later that their question was really about X.
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....
 
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff
Posts: 48642
56
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like a feminist term to me
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Campbell Ritchie wrote:Sounds like a feminist term to me

Case in point; when I saw the topic title, I was sure that this was going to be a "Men are from Mars..." type of post.
 
Pat Farrell
Rancher
Posts: 4678
7
Linux Mac OS X VI Editor
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Campbell Ritchie wrote:Sounds like a feminist term to me

Women are X cross and men are Y wise?

That was very un-PC 45 years ago when I was taught it in biology class, and the term PC hadn't been invented yet.
 
Paul Clapham
Sheriff
Pie
Posts: 20945
31
Eclipse IDE Firefox Browser MySQL Database
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's not in Wikipedia yet. When I looked for "xy" in Wikipedia I was led down the garden path to a page which mentioned its use in a Romanization of the Hmong language (in which Romanization "Hmong" is spelled "Hmoob")... but that didn't seem to be particularly relevant.
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pat Farrell wrote:
Campbell Ritchie wrote:Sounds like a feminist term to me

Women are X cross and men are Y wise?


Men are XY, women are XX.
 
Mike Simmons
Ranch Hand
Posts: 3032
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bear Bibeault wrote:Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....

Or a Stack Overflow entry!

Oh, wait...
 
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand
Posts: 4369
3
Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i must admit that at first it looked like the post read "the problem with men"
 
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 15214
36
Android IntelliJ IDE Java Scala Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here are some more descriptions of the problem:

XY Problem (perlmonks)
XyProblem (Greg's Wiki)
 
Arun Kumarr
Ranch Hand
Posts: 661
Eclipse IDE Java Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
But isn't finding out part of the solution. Here is a cross post from my facebook.

But, first the topology.
I live in chennai:
1. "Little Mount" to "Velachery" (5.6kms).
2. "Velachery" to Checkers hotel in "Saidapet" (5 kms)
3. "Little Mount" to checkers hotel in "Saidapet" (less than 1 km).
---------
Yesterday, early morning my bus broke down near little mount.
I got down and started walking with others and a van stopped by and asked how do I get to Velachery.
Everyone started giving directions, one said take the Adyar route and an U-turn, another said take the one way and go straight.
I asked him, why do you want to go to Velachery. He said, I will go to Velachery from there take a straight road and go to Saidapet.
By the time, I dint want to ask him what confusion he underwent early morning, I smiled and asked him where do you want to go in Saidapet. He said, near checkers hotel.
I said you are already there and go straight and on the left is checkers hotel.

The funniest part was one of the guys who got down from the bus had to go to Velachery and he got into the van telling the driver that he will show him the route. He later got down learning the confusion.
I saw the look on his face: There are some things money can't buy.
------------
 
John Jai
Rancher
Posts: 1776
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Arun Kumarr wrote:But isn't finding out part of the solution. Here is a cross post from my facebook.

I thought you accidentally cross posted in this thread - instead of here - http://www.coderanch.com/t/565979/md/do-you-people-identifying-cross
 
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper
Posts: 15214
36
Android IntelliJ IDE Java Scala Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Arun, that's a good example of the XY problem in real life. It would have been so much easier if they had just said they wanted to go to the Checkers hotel.

It's so simple. You want to do X, then ask about how to do X, instead of guessing that you need to do Y and asking about that and not tell that what you really want to do is X.
 
Arun Kumarr
Ranch Hand
Posts: 661
Eclipse IDE Java Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yesterday, I spoke to an architect and he was mentioning that in the project which he worked for, he had done some performance fixes and now the business flow is getting executed faster. However he also mentioned, this exercise has surfaced a bug, which had been lying unnoticed because of the previous performance problems.

Now, I wonder, if we have name (like XY problem) for this kind of dormant bugs? Ideally not dormant but active and unnoticed because it was clouded by some other bug/issue.
I remember having a name for this, I somehow couldn't recollect it.
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Stealth bug
 
Arun Kumarr
Ranch Hand
Posts: 661
Eclipse IDE Java Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bear Bibeault wrote:Stealth bug


May be we can use it for some other bug, but this one was not in stealth mode. It was active and contributing.
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
Rancher
Posts: 2756
32
Eclipse IDE Spring Tomcat Server
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I call these bugs "Dormant bugs"
 
Arun Kumarr
Ranch Hand
Posts: 661
Eclipse IDE Java Spring
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:I call these bugs "Dormant bugs"

Not dormant either. They were active.
While doing some read I came across another kind of bug, Heisenbug
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dormant until...
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
Rancher
Posts: 2756
32
Eclipse IDE Spring Tomcat Server
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Arun Kumarr wrote:
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:I call these bugs "Dormant bugs"

Not dormant either. They were active.

Well dormant implies that they were dormant before but are active now. You wouldn't know about dormant bugs that aren't active.


While doing some read I came across another kind of bug, Heisenbug


I don't know whether there is a a term for it:- There are some bugs that become worse when you try to analyze them. Most frequently appear when you are looking at performance problems. "Lets see.. I'll add log statements to find out why this piece of code that is executed 10K times takes 10ms instead of 1 ms.. Oh crap now it takes 100ms"
 
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Pie
Posts: 64683
86
IntelliJ IDE Java jQuery Mac Mac OS X
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bear Bibeault wrote:Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....

Over a year later, the FAQ Entry has been created.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic