TestToTester

Testing and Biking: Part 2 - License plate heuristic

Last week on the way back home I and my wife Sunitha found us lost in an area which I was not familiar with. It was around 12am. I could hardly see a pedestrian or other vehicles on the road (in our country we still do not use GPS :)). Sunitha was worried since it was getting late and we could hardly position where we were. I thought I shall park my bike on the left side of the road, and try finding some help. When I was about to park I saw a lady rider on her motorbike zip past me. I noticed her license plate and it was of my area KA-XX. I told my wife let’s follow her she might lead us to a road familiar since her license plate is from the same area. We followed her and she rightfully took us to the road we were heading for. Wow! Following the license plate did work.

Later I started thinking more on this license plate heuristic and I chalked out points, why this worked so well at that point.

1. Time: The time I chose to follow the bike with similar license plate was around 12:00am; most of us might be heading home at that time and seldom to other locations.
2. Rider’s gear: She had a helmet, backpack and an jacket on, no gloves, no saddle bags, no gear of her made me think she could be on a long ride, in fact her appearance looked like she was returning home from her office.
3. The bike: She rode a bike which delivered similar power to that of my bike, so following the bike was much easier.

Now, imagine some one using the license plate heuristic at 9AM, when most of us might be heading to office or college, etc. or imagine following a biker who has his touring gear on, or imagine following a bike which is more powerful or slower, when compared to the bike you ride. The probability you might not reach your destination will be high. Or why would one even use this heuristic in the day light when you could ask some one the route (people who speak a different language and those who follow best particle might still use it :)).

So, I feel using heuristics are good but deciding which heuristic to use when is very essential. In other words it again highlights the importance of context in our day to day problem solving or be it in the field of testing.

3 comments:

Pradeep Soundararajan said...
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Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Take a specific example in testing, apply this heuristic in several contexts and explain its usefulness.

At the moment I don't get the idea.

Sharath Byregowda said...

Take a specific example in testing, apply this heuristic in several contexts and explain its usefulness.

stay tuned for my further posts on testing and biking :)

At the moment I don't get the idea.

Pradeep, I would like to know what you did not understand in this post. In this post I share the heuristic which helped me reach home safely in the night, and how the heuristic might fail if used at a different time interval. I finally highlight the point that usage of heuristics is contextual.

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