Abel Mathew
Abel Mathew
Backtrace
CEO, Co-Founder
Abel Mathew is the co-founder and CEO of Backtrace I/O. Prior to Backtrace, Abel was a Head of Engineering at AppNexus where he led a team of developers to improve ad optimization and reduce platform-wide costs. He spent multiple years as a developer and a team lead on AppNexus’ Adserver Team where he helped design and implement their low-latency advertising platform. Before AppNexus, Abel was a kernel module and tools developer at IBM and a server room monkey at AMD.
Post-mortem Debugging: could you be the one?

Post-mortem debugging is an incredibly powerful but underutilized technique for today’s software practitioners. With little impact on runtime operation and the capacity to preserve enough information to root-cause the most difficult of bugs, post-mortem debugging stands to be the go-to debugging technique for software teams. Alas, like a first love, things aren’t as good as they seemed, with fewer people practicing this technique than ever before. This talk introduces post-mortem debugging and its place in the state of debugging today, the downfalls of its practice in real-world situations, and why we should forget the past and give it another chance. We start things off by introducing post-mortem debugging. This introduction includes a brief history of this technique and its purpose. It then compares the technique to others, such as print debugging and the more traditional in situ debugging, giving examples of their use in various situations and environments. We then turn our attention to the process and practice behind post-mortem debugging seen today. Framing the discussion through the lens of a software fault in production, this section of the talk explains how and why software organizations struggle with this technique. We take a hard look at these failures with real-world examples and give audience members a peek into our broken hearts. Finally, we propose solutions to these problems from our experiences and those of our colleagues. Through these proposals, we address the shortcomings of today’s solutions with tangible improvements that get us closer to unlocking the full potential of post-mortem debugging. It’s this potential that excites us, causes us to forget past heartaches and makes us ask the question, “Post-mortem debugging, could you be the one?”