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The XY problem

 
Java Cowboy
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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.
 
lowercase baba
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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.
 
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Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....
 
Marshal
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Sounds like a feminist term to me
 
Bear Bibeault
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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
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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.
 
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Bear Bibeault wrote:Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....


Or a Stack Overflow entry!

Oh, wait...
 
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i must admit that at first it looked like the post read "the problem with men"
 
Jesper de Jong
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Here are some more descriptions of the problem:

XY Problem (perlmonks)
XyProblem (Greg's Wiki)
 
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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.
------------
 
Rancher
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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 - https://coderanch.com/t/565979/md/do-you-people-identifying-cross
 
Jesper de Jong
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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
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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
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Stealth bug
 
Arun Kumarr
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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.
 
Rancher
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I call these bugs "Dormant bugs"
 
Arun Kumarr
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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
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Dormant until...
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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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
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Bear Bibeault wrote:Sounds like a FAQ entry in the making....


Over a year later, the FAQ Entry has been created.
 
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