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What is a programming language?

Do you want to do a career in computer science? Would you like to program your own applications? If so, then your future is practically assured. Computers and electronic devices are going to shape what Humanity will become.

If you want to be at the forefront, studying computer science is one of the best ideas you can have. And in this article you will find interesting things that can help you on that path.

What is the programming language

What you will find here: Types of programming language, the best programming languages, what is a programming language for.

What are programming languages?

As you know, using a computer is the simplest and most transparent thing there is. You turn it on and that’s it. You should not worry at all about technical aspects such as hardware or how  the programs you use every day are developed and designed.

This has been the case for years, and it is totally acceptable for it to be this way. Because what underlies an application’s windows and dialog boxes should never interfere with the  productivity  of whoever uses the software.

This is the responsibility of computer engineers and developers.

However, it never hurts to learn something new, since in this way you will be able to better understand how a computer works or what its functions are , and how it interacts with us through software.

With this you gain in productivity and efficiency, and why not, you get that something else that differentiates us from others, and that translates into a better economic position.

That is why in this article you will find abundant  information about programming languages ​​and their evolution over the years.

Everything you see as soon as you press the power button on your computer is not magic, it is technology.

The operating system, its applications, and the smaller parts such as dialog boxes, menus, windows, and buttons have their birth in programming languages.

The function of the programming language

A programming language is basically a computer program with the ability to  create source code through a series of syntactic and semantic rules. These are made up of words, numbers, a set of symbols and expressions.

This source code, once compiled, will become a program or software and can be executed on your computer without the need for you to carry out any other steps.

A little less technically, programming could be defined as the set of consecutive and ordered instructions that lead the computer to perform a specific task. What is done through any of the computer languages that exist.

It might seem that this definition is a bit fair. And it’s true, programming and programming languages are much more complex than that.

For this reason, later in this article we will get more into these topics, which are fascinating. Read it to the end, you will see that you will be surprised by everything that programming and its languages ​​cover!

Source code view

What are programming languages ​​for?

Still, for better or for worse, computers are not capable of making their own decisions.

The artificial intelligence is not sufficiently developed to make it happen. In other words, for a device to fulfill its task, it must be programmed.

This will surely lead you to the following questions: How are these devices programmed?

The answer to this is through a programming language. But what is a programming language? What is a programming language for?

Here the answer is a bit complicated, but we hope that with the following lines you can clarify the picture a bit.

Computers at this point, although they are devices that can do countless tasks, the truth is that if you don’t tell it what to do, it won’t do anything.

In order for a computer or device to carry out a task for which it is not programmed, it needs to be instructed to do so. This you must do through logical instructions.

For this there is programming and programming languages.

Books on programming language

In other words, the main function of a programming language is to solve the problem, which you will have to do in the form of algorithms.

When you write code, compile, and so on to control device behavior, you get the computer to do what you want.

The end result of the task of programming , or writing that set of commands, is called a program, software, or application.

What is the use of programming?

The answer to this question may be simple, but it is the best one.

Programming is used for everything you propose. In these times where computers and electronic devices are present in every moment of life, programming is essential.

This does not mean that in order to operate a device you have to know how to program. What he means is that programming today can be a very profitable activity.

In this sense, programming can offer specific solutions to particular needs.

This means that if you learn to program any of the general-purpose types of language that exist today, you can give that solution to whoever needs it in the form of software, and charge for it.

This can be applied to any of the commercial and industrial activities. All economic activity requires software to automate processes, management computing or web development solutions, such as web applications, among many other scenarios.

Software development is one of the most suitable careers for the times to come.

In this sense, in the near future more and more actors will be required who know how to operate in this field, especially due to the incessant deployment of technology that you can already see around you every day.

The programming language and technology

Elements of a programming language

Although each programming language has its own characteristics, the truth is that most share functions or semantic rules. That is why some languages ​​are alike, even if the result is different.

In the list that you have available in the lines below, we will show you the main elements of a programming language that are necessary for software development.

  • Data types: This is how the data with which a programming language can work is called. According to its implementation and use, the following are common:
    • Integer: Type used to represent whole numbers.
    • Real: Type used to represent numbers with a decimal point.
    • String: Type used to represent text data.
  • Reserved words: This expression refers to the words of the syntax of a certain programming language. These are used to create instructions and command sequences. It should be noted that these types of words cannot be used to name or create new variables.
  • Operators: These operators are used for the purpose of creating instructions through mathematical calculations, comparisons or logical operations. Operators are basically divided into three types:
    • Arithmetic operators
      • Addition and subtraction: + and –
      • Product and division: * and /
      • Exponentiation: ^
    • Relational operators
      • Minor: <
      • Less than or equal: <=
      • Major:>
      • Greater than or equal:> =
      • Equal: ==
      • Other: <>
    • Logical operators
      • Y: AND
      • OR: OR
      • NO: NOT
      • exclusive: XOR

Elements of the programming language

  • Constants and variables: Both types must be defined by an identifier. If not, you will not be able to reference them during the execution of the program.
    • Constants are basically data classes that have the characteristic of not being able to change when the written program is running.
    • On the contrary, variables are data that can change during the execution of the application.
  • Flow control structures : Flow structures can be divided according to the function they fulfill.
    • FOR … NEXT: This structure aims to make a block of instructions repeat a predetermined number of times.
    • IF … THEN … ELSE: Through logical comparison or other mechanisms, these flow structures are capable of executing one or more instructions.
  • Functions: Functions are basically a form of variables . They can be user-defined or belong to the language. They work in the following way. When called, they execute a block of code or subroutine, simplifying the code of the written program. This is done to be able to be used more easily in all the occasions in which it is needed in the execution of the program.
  • Comments: Comments are nothing more than text that you will use to comment on some part of the code. These comments will obviously not be executed as they are only used to keep track of the code.

History and evolution of programming languages

The history of programming languages ​​dates back to 1840. In that year Ada Lovelace,  considered a pioneer in this field, left important concepts in a recognized work called “Notes” that continue to this day.

This will be the starting point of everything that we know today in the matter  of computer languages , and that has been very important in the origins of this matter.

The years have passed, and since those first sketches,  programming languages ​​have advanced a lot,  as well as their capabilities and the result of what they can offer.

Ada Lovelace, pioneer of the programming language

Although Ada Lovelace was the first person to work on this type of research, the real breakthroughs were made many years later. Precisely from the 1940s, when computing began to develop.

In 1946 ENIAC , initials of “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer”, which in Spanish means “Computer and Electronic Numerical Integrator”  emerged  This computer was used by the United States Army Ballistics Research Laboratory.

Obviously, with these  first computers  came the need to program them to do what was asked of them.

From this point all the types of programming language that are known today arose.

Evolution of programming languages

Over the years, it became apparent that more powerful and flexible programming languages ​​were needed  to control the physical behavior of modern computers.

Imagine that each model that was developed was superior to the previous one, and to take advantage of the complex tasks that modern computers could process, they had to create new programming languages.

First computers

That is why the Assembler language and  Fortran  were followed by languages ​​such as LISP, COBOL, ALGOL, PASCAL, BASIC, C, dBASE, ADA, JAVA, PHP, C ++, DELPHI  and others.

These languages ​​are the ones that opened the door to computing as we know it now.

Currently,  there are about 2000 programming languages. This shows that there is great interest in this type of software design tools, both from developers and their customers.

However most of them are implementations of older languages.

More despite this wide range of possibilities,  there is no programming language that stands out above the rest. This is because each of the programming languages ​​offer advantages and disadvantages.

In this scenario, it should be the developer who must select the one that is best for him to program a new application from scratch . This is easier with a development environment appropriate to the type of software you want to create.

In this sense, development environments, called IDEs, from the English “Integrated Development Environment”, are excellent tools to carry out this task.

This is so because it allows the possibility of quickly correcting errors and multiple other functions, which give the programmer incredible flexibility.

IDE development environment

Types of programming languages

Programming languages ​​are the basis on which all the applications that you use every day for your computing tasks are built.

From the computer’s operating system to your favorite text editor, to the web pages you visit every day, they are all born from a programming language.

If you want to know more about the types of computer languages, in the following lines you will find excellent information.

Machine language

The  machine language , also called  machine code is a coding system designed to be recognized and executed directly by a microprogrammable circuit.

These devices can be the microprocessor of a computer or microcontrollers in numerical control machines, for example.

Basically, this machine language is composed of a set of instructions that determine the behavior of a machinery or controller.

A machine language program is a string of these instructions plus the data on which it will return the results.

However, the machine language is completely expressed in  binary code,  that is 1 and 0, and therefore very complex to implement. In order for humans to interact with this code, it must be translated.

To solve this problem, and to make the life of the programmer easier, the assembly language was developed. 

Assembly language made it possible to translate these long numerical strings into words like  “Add”, “Sub”, “Mul”  and  “Call”, which operated directly at the hardware level.

These terms were later called “Instructions”.

Assembly language

Assembly Language  and  Assembly Language  for translation to the Castilian,  is a programming language for all types of processors and controllers.

This language is capable of interpreting and manipulating binary machine codes through a symbolic representation and making them “more accessible” to programmers.

Assembly language example

Assembly language was used at the dawn of computer science,  when more powerful and flexible languages ​​had not yet been developed.

However, it is still used academically and when it is necessary to have direct access to hardware, as in the case of operating systems and device drivers for printers, scanners and other types of peripherals.

It should be noted that  assembly language is considered a low-level language.

To know more about assembly language: Assembly language 

High and Low Level Languages

If you want to know in more detail about low and high level languages, from this section you will find super interesting information.

Low Level Languages

The low – level languages are languages completely oriented to the machine, ie are most approximate to the  “Machine Code” , it is at 0 and 1, and it is necessary to know the hardware solidly.

The programs resulting from these languages ​​are very small and extremely fast. Examples of these low-level languages ​​are Assembler and Language C.

Low-level language example

High Level Languages

There is also a second type of programming language, or  “high-level language.” This is distinguished from the first because it has the ability  to express itself in a way analogous to the language of humans.

This means that they are able to represent algorithms in a way that is appropriate to people’s cognitive ability.

The first High-Level programming language that allowed programmers never-before-seen flexibility was  Fortran , created in 1957.

This was developed primarily as a  high-level language alternative to assembly language r for programming the  IBM 704 mainframe.

Man operating IBM 704 mainframe

This development made it possible to speed up the programming times of these machines. This must be considered as a true milestone in the history of programming languages, since before Fortran, programs were only developed in assembly language.

These are languages ​​more oriented to the problem you want to solve. This serves so that the programmer has to pay little or no attention to the characteristics of the computer  on which the program will be executed. They can also be used for mobile app development.

The programs resulting from these languages ​​are not that fast. Examples of high-level languages ​​are Delphi, Visual Basic, Pascal, the old Clipper, and Foxpro, among others.

For programs to work, they  need to be translated into machine code. This means that the source code of the program must be transformed into object code) and for that you need a translator or compiler.

Translator

It must be in memory while the program is running,  the program needs to be translated every time it is run.  Each instruction is being translated as it is being executed, with that the program ends up being slower.

Examples of this are Access, DBase and other applications of this type.

Programming language translator example

Compiler

It does not need to be in memory while the program is running, as it is translated entirely once only, making its execution very fast.

Examples of this type of app are Delphi, Clipper, Pascal and C, among others.

Examples of programming languages

  • Logo: If you have any doubts, Logo is one of the most popular programming languages. It is a high-level programming language, launched in 1967, part functional, part structured. Its best feature is its ease of learning and use. For this reason, it is a widely used programming language for teaching computer science to children of all ages.
  • ADA: Ada is a highly statically typed , concurrent, multipurpose, object-oriented programming language . It was launched in 1980 with the aim of developing a flexible programming language, with a strong control in reducing errors and at the same time being safe.
  • BASIC: Perhaps the best known of all programming languages. It appeared in 1964, and its name corresponds to the acronym in English “Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”. It is basically a family of high-level programming languages ​​that continues to this day.

  • Perl: Perl is a programming language released in 1987. The main characteristics of Perl is that it mixes functions seen in other programming languages ​​such as Lisp and C. In its origins, Perl was developed for word processing, but nowadays it is used for various purposes, such as web development and systems administration.
  • C: General-purpose programming language released in 1969, which was originally used for the creation of Unix operating systems. This was an evolution of the “B” programming language.
  • C ++: This is a 1979 object-oriented programming language designed in 1979 designed for the purpose of extending the range of C functions.
  • PHP: This is a general-purpose programming language that can be perfectly adapted for the development of web pages and services. This language was developed in 1994, and could soon be ranked in the preferences of web content developers around the world for its reliability and stability.
  • Prolog: Acronym for PROgrammation in LOGique. It is a logical and interpreted programming language launched in 1972. At present it is widely used in the development of artificial intelligence applications.
  • Cobol: The COBOL programming language, acronym for “COmmon Business-Oriented Language”, was launched in 1959 with a specific purpose: To create a universal programming language oriented to business, mainly in management computing.
  • MATLAB: MATLAB, or “MATrix LABoratory” as it is also known, is a numerical computing system. It offers, in addition to its own language, called “M”, an integrated development environment (IDE). It should be noted that it is available for Windows, macOS, Unix and Linux.
  • Fortran: Fortran is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that has been adapted for numerical computation and scientific computing. It was originally developed by IBM in 1957, and its name stands for “Mathematical Formula Translating System.”

  • Java: Basically, Java is a programming language and a computing platform. It was released in 1995 by Sun Microsystems. As its main characteristic, we can mention that its syntax derives largely from C and C ++.
  • LISP: Lisp is a family of multi-paradigm programming languages. It was originally developed in 1958 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Notably, Lisp is one of the oldest high-level programming languages ​​out there, having been released in 1958.
  • Pascal: Pascal is a programming language released in 1970 by a professor named Niklaus Wirth. The main objective was to develop a language that would allow him to teach programming to his students. But thanks to its characteristics and functions, over time its use spread beyond the classroom, and it began to be used for the development of all kinds of software.
  • Python: Python is basically an interpreted programming language. The main characteristic of this is that it is a multi-paradigm programming language. This is because Python partially supports object orientation, imperative programming, and functional programming. It was released in 1991.
  • Action Script: Developed and released by Adobe in 1997, it is the Adobe Flash programming platform. It was originally designed with the goal of making Flash apps more comfortable for developers.

Learn to program

The  application program  is one of the most profitable professions that are in those days. Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more people are inclining their study preferences for this field.

However, it can be a difficult task to learn, as the road ahead is arduous and long. Programming is not something that can be learned in a few days or weeks.

Learning to write your own applications  and also do it for external clients like a professional can take you a few years. However, this is not to say that programming is a profession for only a few.

With patience and dedication you can be successful on the path you have undertaken, it is only a matter of persevering and studying.

But for this to work, you must take into account some considerations, which has to do more with  what you need to learn to program.

Man writing programming language

In this sense, first of all you must be clear about what you want to learn to program.

In other words, if you want to design management applications, web programming or video games, the first step in the learning chain is undoubtedly the type of programming language you need to learn.

We all know that in the field of programming, the offer of  software to create applications  is vast, and above all very changing.

This is mainly due to the fact that these applications and languages ​​can most of the time be used interchangeably for different types of applications.

In this sense, there is nothing worse for the person who wants to program than the proliferation of offers that lead him to a dead end when it comes to sitting down and learning.

This means that  the user who is just starting to program needs to focus on a single aspect,  and avoid dispersing himself into other languages ​​and forms.

As you have noticed,  learning to program right  from the start is a difficult task, but not impossible.

In order to be of help in this regard, from this point on we are going to learn about some of the most interesting ways to learn to program.

The first option you have available to learn is self-taught, that is,  learn to program on your own. This is possible as long as you have a solid foundation in math, determination, and a good library or reference base.

Fortunately, on the Internet you can find  material to learn programming totally free,  including courses, tutorials and books in PDF format.

All this will be of great help, especially if you do not have enough budget to buy the necessary books.

In this sense, the technical literature that you need to get should cover from  the fundamentals of language.

To do this, the best way to find all these materials are forums or  websites dedicated to programming languages.

You can also draw on the wisdom of friends, family and acquaintances, as you should never discount good advice.

The self-taught method may include, among other study tools, the possibility of  practicing on programming languages.

This means that you should start programming from the reference materials directly on the programming language you want to learn.

Another way to learn programming is to enroll in an introductory course on the subject in person.

From there, combine the knowledge acquired in said course with self-taught studies.

This will allow you to learn to program at your own pace and needs, starting from a solid foundation.

The only condition for this to work is that the course you take guarantees good content and that it is up-to-date, otherwise you will only be wasting time.

Finally, we must not rule out the possibility of  obtaining formal studies in programming  since this is the option that also offers you more benefits.

Of course, this path is the one that will open the most doors for you in the future!

Sure, the road is more winding, but the benefits of earning a computer science degree are better.

If you are interested in knowing what  it is to program in computing , below these lines you will find information about the different approaches to learning programming languages ​​that exist.

You could take this as the first step on the road to good learning.

What is the ideal language to learn to program?

A few years ago, people who wanted to  start learning a programming language  were limited by the few alternatives available.

In addition, the lack of literature related to the subject was difficult to find and very expensive, and it was not always up to date.

Of course there were university-level careers related to computer science. But the truth is that  not everyone could access a higher level education due to other external factors.

Programming language schema view

Unfortunately, access to higher education is more related to the budget than to the intellect.

Another problem that a person who wanted to peek into the world of software programming had to face was his language. That is to say that in addition to worrying about getting material with which to learn, he  had to learn English in order to understand it. 

Fortunately, this scenario has changed.

Currently we can find books that speak of formal language, imperative languages, functional languages or that speak of object-oriented languages totally free and in Spanish.

It is even possible to  learn to program completely self-taught,  with dozens of programming languages ​​to choose from available to start diving into them.

It should be noted that many programming languages ​​today can also be found completely free of charge.

This is mainly thanks to the Internet, where you can download all the necessary tools to learn to program.

In the network of networks you can download all the literature, including books, manuals and tutorials, software and everything you need to learn to use a programming language  without practically leaving your home.

However,  this amount of languages ​​ready for us to learn can also confuse you. At this point, you will surely be in doubt about which of them is the most suitable for us and our requirements.

Man writing programming language

For those who are just starting out,  choosing the right programming language is a question that is not very easy to solve.

However, at this point there are three basic factors that can help you in this decision:

  • The ease of use and learning. That is, how simple it will be to understand and then put into practice. It should be noted at this point that the simpler the software, the simpler the result.
  • The usefulness of it,  that is, in which platforms and scenarios the language you are going to learn can serve you
  • And finally, perhaps the most important of the decision factors,  the job market in which the learned language will allow you to move.

If you want to solve this question as cleanly as possible, in the following lines you will find enough information to make a decision based on these three elements.

Deciding which programming language to learn

Ease of use and learning

There is no doubt that  one of the easiest programming languages ​​to learn and use is PHP . For a reason, it is the perfect language for all those who want to start programming. 

Man creating programming language scheme

This is mainly due to various technical factors such as its  “Untyped” characteristic,  which means that it does not control the type of variable it declares.

In this way it is possible to use variables of any type in the same scenario,  something that directly benefits the novice user.

Utility

In case you want to  learn a programming language  that can be used in many different types of scenarios or projects, there is no doubt that the language we should choose is C / C ++.

The C / C ++ programming language is widely used to  program games,  applications, and even operating systems.

However,  C / C ++ is much more complex to learn than PHP,  but the job market that we can access through this language is much larger. Therefore it is more profitable for you to learn C / C ++ than PHP.

Another language that can be useful for a quick insertion in the job market is Java .

This is because it is  a language that can be used to write software for a very wide group of applications,  including smartphones, household appliances, and other uses.

Working market

If you really want to settle into today’s job market, it is extremely important to consider  learning more than one programming language.

The possibility of learning more than one programming language will open the door to many job opportunities than if you learned just one, which will be limited.

That is why it is best to jump right in and  become an expert in the programming language that best suits your needs and requirements.

Then start learning other programming languages.

What should be highlighted here, and that you should not forget, is to obtain as much knowledge as possible on other platforms and be aware of any new technology and new programming language that appears.

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