Programming languages

Programming languages

A programming language is used to write computer programs such as

  • Applications
  • Utilities
  • Servers
  • Systems Programs

Each and every operation in your computer performs has instructions that someone had to write in a programming language. These had to be created, compiled and tested- a long and complex task.

Since the 1950s, computer scientists have devised thousands of programming languages. Many are obscure, perhaps created for a Ph.D. thesis and never heard of since. Others became popular for a while then faded due to lack of support or because they were limited to a particular computer system. Some are variants of existing languages, adding new features like parallelism- the ability to run many parts of a program on different computers in parallel.

These languages include Machine, Assembler, C or C++. Machine LanguageĀ refers to the “ones and zeroes” that digital processors use as instructions A computer motherboard with the CPU, RAM and ROM), the instructions to boot the computer are limited to a small amount of memory in the boot ROM chip and so are usually written in assembler. Operating systems like Linux or Windows are written in C and C++.

A program is written as a series of human understandable computer instructions that can be read by a compiler and linker, and translated into machine code so that a computer can understand and run it.

Then see the real meaning of programming languages: A vocabulary and set of grammatical rules for instructing a computer to perform specific tasks.

The term programming language usually refers to high-level languages, such as BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, , Java and Pascal. Each language has a unique set of keywords (words that it understands) and a special syntax for organizing program instructions.

High-level programming languages, while simple compared to human languages, are more complex than the languages the computer actually understands, called machine languages. Each different type of CPU has its own unique machine language.

Lying between machine languages and high-level languages are languages called assembly languages. Assembly languages are similar to machine languages, but they are much easier to program in because they allow a programmer to substitute names for numbers. Machine languages consist of numbers only.

Lying above high-level languages are languages called fourth-generation languages (usually abbreviated 4GL). 4GLs are far removed from machine languages and represent the class of computer languages closest to human languages.

Regardless of what language you use, you eventually need to convert your program into machine language so that the computer can understand it.

There are two ways to do this:

  • compile the program
  • interpret the program

See difference between about these two methods compile and interpreter.

An Interpreted language is processed at runtime. Every line is read, analyzed, and executed. Having to reprocess a line every time in a loop is what makes interpreted languages so slow. This overhead means that interpreted code runs between 5 – 10 times slower than compiled code. The interpreted languages like Basic or JavaScript are the slowest. Their advantage does not need to be recompiled after changes and that is handy when you’re learning to program.

Because compiled programs almost always run faster than interpreted, languages such as C and C++ tend to be the most popular for writing games. Java and C# both compile to an interpreted language which is very efficient. Because the Virtual Machine that interprets Java and the .NET framework that runs C# are heavily optimized, it’s claimed that applications in those languages are as fast if not faster as compiled C++.

Then see the best language to program a best program.

The question of which language is best is one that consumes a lot of time and energy among computer professionals. Every language has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, FORTRAN is a particularly good language for processing numerical data, but it does not lend itself very well to organizing large programs. Pascal is very good for writing well-structured and readable programs, but it is not as flexible as the C programming language. C++ embodies powerful object-oriented features, but it is complex and difficult to learn.

The choice of which language to use depends on the type of computer the program is to run on, what sort of program it is, and the expertise of the programmer.

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