Computer Programming

Computer Programming

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Computer Programming: A Hierarchy Of Languages


A computer cannot work without software to direct its hardware. That is where computer programming comes into the scene. A programmer is a person who writes software for a computer to use. There are many kinds of programming languages, as they are called, ranging from the simplistic assembly language to the more complicated C++ and Java. These languages are divided into a small hierarchy, ranging from machine code to high level languages. 

Each level of this hierarchy is more complex than the one below it; however, the higher a language is on the hierarchy, the slower it will run as a program in general because it has to be compiled into a machine code.  Regardless of the language used, computer programming is a vital job in today's world simply because of the amount of computers we use in the industry.

The lowest level of computer programming languages is machine code, which is simply a long list of 1's and 0's which are read by the processor directly. The next step up is assembly language, which uses mnemonics known as opcodes and hexadecimal, a base-16 numbering system, to manipulate the 1's and 0's.

It is easier for a programmer to deal with assembly because it uses letters instead of just being a long string of binary (1's and 0's) numbers. Because assembly is one step above machine code, it is the fastest language in terms of being compiled.

The next level of programming languages are what is known as the high-level languages.  These computer programming languages are the most familiar, which include the highly used C, C++, and Java. Even some of the lesser used languages such as Pascal, BASIC, and FORTRAN are all considered high-level languages.

The high-level languages are different from assembly in that they have their own syntax and wording system. Instead of using opcodes to manipulate hexadecimal numbers, high-level languages have symbols and/or actual words that can manipulate data at a higher level.

From the simplistic assembly language to the more complicated high-level languages, computer programming is divided into multiple layers, each layer being more complicated than the last. The lowest layer, machine code, cannot be understood by humans because it is simply 1's and 0's. The next level is assembly language, which replaces the 1's and 0's with mnemonics and hexadecimal numbers, making it easier for humans to use.

The high-level languages, including FORTRAN, BASIC, C++, and Java, use symbols and/or words that can do more in less lines of code than assembly. However, in order to be translated to a form that is readable by the computer, these high-level languages must be translated, or compiled, to assembly and then to machine code. That is why assembly language runs faster, it only needs to be compiled once instead of twice.

For more easy-to-understand computer programming information, please click the following link for Computer Programming For Dummies

 

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