DWARF is a widely used, standardized debugging data format. DWARF was originally designed along with Executable and Linkable Format (ELF),although it is independent of object file formats. The name is a medieval fantasy complement to ELF that has no official meaning, although the backronym 'Debugging With Attributed Record Formats' was later proposed.
The DWARF Debugging Information Format is of interest to programmers working on compilers and debuggers (and anyone interested in reading or writing DWARF information). DWARF uses a data structure called a Debugging Information Entry (DIE) to represent each variable, type, procedure, etc. It was developed by a committee (known as the PLSIG at the time) starting around 1991. Starting around 1991 SGI developed the libdwarf and dwarfdump tools for internal use and as part of SGI IRIX developer tools. Since that time dwarfdump and libdwarf have been shipped (as an executable and archive respectively, not source) with every release of the SGI MIPS/IRIX C compiler. In 1994 (I think the correct year) SGI agreed to open-source libdwarf (and in 1999 to open-source dwarfdump) so anyone could use them.