Don't Assume It - Prove It

When you find yourself surprised by a bug (perhaps even muttering "that's impossible" under your breath where we can't hear you), you must reevaluate truths you hold dear. In that linked list routine—the one you knew was bulletproof and couldn't possibly be the cause of this bug—did you test all the boundary conditions? That other piece of code you've been using for years—it couldn't possibly still have a bug in it. Could it?

Of course it can. The amount of surprise you feel when something goes wrong is directly proportional to the amount of trust and faith you have in the code being run. That's why, when faced with a "surprising" failure, you must realize that one or more of your assumptions is wrong. Don't gloss over a routine or piece of code involved in the bug because you "know" it works. Prove it. Prove it in this context, with this data, with these boundary conditions.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

— by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas