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Debug symbols

Debug symbols

Debug symbols definition

A debug symbol is a special marker or label programmers add to their software programs to help them understand and troubleshoot the code. Debug symbols are not human-readable, but programmers use debugging tools to interpret them and get meaningful insights. A debug symbol provides information about the program’s structure and functions.

How debug symbols work

  • When programmers write code, they use a programming language (like C, C++, or Java) to compile the code into a format that computers can read and run.
  • Part of the compilation process is generating debug symbols (with information like variable and function names or line numbers). They create a link between the compiled binary code and the source code.
  • When a programmer runs into an issue or wants to inspect the program’s behavior, they can use a debugger to review the code. The debugger converts debug symbols to meaningful information the programmer can understand.
  • Programmers can get a better idea of the flow of execution and track down errors.

Information debug symbols provide

  • Variable and function names: Helps identify the variables, which functions are called, and where they are
  • Line numbers: Allows programmers to see which lines of code are being executed as they step through the program during debugging.
  • File names: Helps programmers correlate the compiled code with the corresponding source code files.
  • Stack traces: When an error or crash occurs in a program, debug symbols can provide a stack trace, which shows the sequence of function calls leading up to the error.

Further reading

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