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Programming Language

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Programming Language

Programming Language


Programming Language, in computer science, artificial language used to write a sequence of instructions (a computer program) that can be run by a computer. Similar to natural languages, such as English, programming languages have a vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. However, natural languages are not suited for programming computers because they are ambiguous, meaning that their vocabulary and grammatical structure may be interpreted in multiple ways. The languages used to program computers must have simple logical structures, and tthe rules for their grammar, spelling, and punctuation must be precise.

Programming languages vary greatly in their sophistication and in their degree of versatility. Some programming languages are written to address a particular kind of computing problem or for use on a particular model of computer system. For instance, programming languages such as Fortran and COBOL were written to solve certain general types of programming problems—Fortran for scientific applications, and COBOL for business applications. Although these languages were designed to address sspecific categories of computer problems, they are highly portable, meaning that they may be used to program many types of computers. Other languages, such as machine languages, are designed to be used by one specific model of computer system, or eeven by one specific computer in certain research applications. The most commonly used programming languages are highly portable and can be used to effectively solve diverse types of computing problems. Languages like C, PASCAL, and BASIC fall into this category.


Programming languages can be classified as either low-level languages or high-level languages. Low-level programming languages, or machine languages, are the most basic type of programming languages and can be understood directly by a computer. Machine languages differ depending on the manufacturer and model of computer. High-level languages are programming languages that must first be translated into a machine language before they can be understood and processed by a computer. Examples of high-level languages are C, C++, PASCAL, and FFortran. Assembly languages are intermediate languages that are very close to machine language and do not have the level of linguistic sophistication exhibited by other high-level languages, but must still be translated into machine language.

A Machine Languages

In machine languages, instructions are written as sequences of 1s and 0s, called bits, that a computer can understand directly. An instruction in machine language generally tells the computer four things: (1) where to find one or two numbers or simple pieces of ddata in the main computer memory (Random Access Memory, or RAM), (2) a simple operation to perform, such as adding the two numbers together, (3) where in the main memory to put the result of this simple operation, and (4) where to find the next instruction to perform. While all executable programs are eventually read by the computer in machine language, they are not all programmed in machine language. It is extremely difficult to program directly in machine language because the instructions are sequences of 1s and 0s. A typical instruction in a machine language might read 10010 1100 1011 and mean add the contents of storage register A to the contents of storage register B.

B High-Level Languages

High-level languages are relatively sophisticated sets of statements utilizing words and syntax from human language. They are more similar to normal human languages than assembly or machine languages and are therefore easier to use for writing complicated programs. These programming languages allow larger and more complicated programs to be developed faster. However, high-level languages must be translated into machine language by another program called a compiler before a computer can understand them. For this reason, programs written in a high-level llanguage may take longer to execute and use up more memory than programs written in an assembly language.

C Assembly Language

Computer programmers use assembly languages to make machine-language programs easier to write. In an assembly language, each statement corresponds roughly to one machine language instruction. An assembly language statement is composed with the aid of easy to remember commands. The command to add the contents of the storage register A to the contents of storage register B might be written ADD B,A in a typical assembly language statement. Assembly languages share certain features with machine languages. For instance, it is possible to manipulate specific bits in both assembly and machine languages. Programmers use assembly languages when it is important to minimize the time it takes to run a program, because the translation from assembly language to machine language is relatively simple. Assembly languages are also used when some part of the computer has to be controlled directly, such as individual dots on a monitor or the flow of individual characters to a printer.


High-level languages are commonly classified as procedure-oriented, functional, object-oriented, or logic languages. The most common high-level languages today are procedure-oriented languages. IIn these languages, one or more related blocks of statements that perform some complete function are grouped together into a program module, or procedure, and given a name such as “procedure A.” If the same sequence of operations is needed elsewhere in the program, a simple statement can be used to refer back to the procedure. In essence, a procedure is just a mini-program. A large program can be constructed by grouping together procedures that perform different tasks. Procedural languages allow programs to be shorter and easier for the computer to read, but they require the programmer to design each procedure to be general enough to be used in different situations.

Functional languages treat procedures like mathematical functions and allow them to be processed like any other data in a program. This allows a much higher and more rigorous level of program construction. Functional languages also allow variables—symbols for data that ...

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