Programming Language

A programming language is a vocabulary and set of grammatical rules for instructing a computer or computing device to perform specific tasks. The term programming language usually refers to high-level languages, such as BASIC, C, C++, COBOL, Java, FORTRAN, Ada, and Pascal.

Each programming language has a unique set of keywords (words that it understands) and a special syntax for organizing program instructions.

Programming Language

High-Level Programming Languages

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.

Converting to Machine Language

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:

1) Compile the program.
2) Interpret the program.

Recommended Reading: See compile and interpreter for more information about these two methods.

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 Top Programming Languages?

According to IEEE Spectrum’s interactive ranking, Python is the top programming language of 2017, followed by C, Java and C++. Of course, 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.

Top Programming Languages

Image: IEEE Spectrum Interactive Ranking (2017)

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Top Articles

Huge List Of Texting and Online Chat Abbreviations

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top...

How To Create A Desktop Shortcut To A Website

This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a website using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer (IE). Creating a desktop...

The History Of Windows Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems. We look at the history of Microsoft's Windows operating systems (Windows OS) from 1985 to present...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

  By Vangie Beal Hotmail is one of the first public webmail services that can be accessed from any web browser. Prior to Hotmail and its...

Cybersecurity Awareness Training Definition...

Cybersecurity awareness training informs employees of the attack surfaces and vectors in their...

Supply Chain Definition &...

A supply chain is a network between an organization and its suppliers to...

Relational Database Definition &...

A relational database stores and connects data in tables and columns, emphasizing the...