is the process of designing and building an executable computer program
to accomplish a specific computing
result or to perform a specific task. Programming involves tasks such as: analysis, generating algorithms
algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms in a chosen programming language
(commonly referred to as coding
The source code
of a program is written in one or more languages that are intelligible to programmers
, rather than machine code
, which is directly executed by the central processing unit
. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task (which can be as complex as an operating system
) on a computer
, often for solving a given problem. Proficient programming thus often requires expertise in several different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain
, specialized algorithms, and formal logic
Data and instructions were once stored on external punched cards
, which were kept in order and arranged in program decks.
was the language of early programs, written in the instruction set
of the particular machine, often in binary
notation. Assembly languages
were soon developed that let the programmer specify instruction in a text format, (e.g., ADD X, TOTAL), with abbreviations for each operation code and meaningful names for specifying addresses. However, because an assembly language is little more than a different notation for a machine language, any two machines with different instruction sets
also have different assembly languages.
made the process of developing a program simpler and more understandable, and less bound to the underlying hardware. FORTRAN
, the first widely used high-level language to have a functional implementation, came out in 1957
and many other languages were soon developed—in particular, COBOL
aimed at commercial data processing, and Lisp
for computer research.
These compiled languages allow the programmer to write programs in terms that are syntactically richer, and more capable of abstracting
the code, making it easy to target for varying machine instruction sets via compilation declarations and heuristics. The first compiler
for a programming language was developed by Grace Hopper
When Hopper went to work on UNIVAC
in 1949, she brought the idea of using compilers with her.
Compilers harness the power of computers to make programming easier
by allowing programmers to specify calculations by entering a formula using infix notation
(e.g., Y = X*2 + 5*X + 9) for example. FORTRAN
, the first widely used high-level language to have a functional implementation which permitted the abstraction of reusable blocks of code, came out in 1957
and many other languages were soon developed—in particular, COBOL
aimed at commercial data processing, and Lisp
for computer research. In 1951 Frances E. Holberton
developed the first sort-merge generator
, which ran on the UNIVAC I
Another woman working at UNIVAC, Adele Mildred Koss
, developed a program that was a precursor to report generators
The idea for the creation of COBOL started in 1959 when Mary K. Hawes
, who worked for the Burroughs Corporation
, set up a meeting to discuss creating a common business language.
She invited six people, including Grace Hopper.
Hopper was involved in developing COBOL as a business language and creating "self-documenting" programming.
Hopper's contribution to COBOL was based on her programming language, called FLOW-MATIC
In 1961, Jean E. Sammet
and also published Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals
, which went on to be a standard work on programming languages.
Source code entry
Whatever the approach to development may be, the final program must satisfy some fundamental properties. The following properties are among the most important:
- Reliability: how often the results of a program are correct. This depends on conceptual correctness of algorithms, and minimization of programming mistakes, such as mistakes in resource management (e.g., buffer overflows and race conditions) and logic errors (such as division by zero or off-by-one errors).
- Robustness: how well a program anticipates problems due to errors (not bugs). This includes situations such as incorrect, inappropriate or corrupt data, unavailability of needed resources such as memory, operating system services, and network connections, user error, and unexpected power outages.
- Usability: the ergonomics of a program: the ease with which a person can use the program for its intended purpose or in some cases even unanticipated purposes. Such issues can make or break its success even regardless of other issues. This involves a wide range of textual, graphical, and sometimes hardware elements that improve the clarity, intuitiveness, cohesiveness and completeness of a program's user interface.
- Portability: the range of computer hardware and operating system platforms on which the source code of a program can be compiled/interpreted and run. This depends on differences in the programming facilities provided by the different platforms, including hardware and operating system resources, expected behavior of the hardware and operating system, and availability of platform-specific compilers (and sometimes libraries) for the language of the source code.
- Maintainability: the ease with which a program can be modified by its present or future developers in order to make improvements or to customize, fix bugs and security holes, or adapt it to new environments. Good practices during initial development make the difference in this regard. This quality may not be directly apparent to the end user but it can significantly affect the fate of a program over the long term.
- Efficiency/performance: Measure of system resources a program consumes (processor time, memory space, slow devices such as disks, network bandwidth and to some extent even user interaction): the less, the better. This also includes careful management of resources, for example cleaning up temporary files and eliminating memory leaks. This is often discussed under the shadow of a chosen programming language. Although the language certainly affects performance, even slower languages, such as Python, can execute programs instantly from a human perspective. Speed, resource usage, and performance are important for programs that bottleneck the system, but efficient use of programmer time is also important and is related to cost: more hardware may be cheaper.
Readability of source code
In computer programming, readability
refers to the ease with which a human reader can comprehend the purpose, control flow
, and operation of source code. It affects the aspects of quality above, including portability, usability and most importantly maintainability.
Readability is important because programmers spend the majority of their time reading, trying to understand and modifying existing source code, rather than writing new source code. Unreadable code often leads to bugs, inefficiencies, and duplicated code
. A study
found that a few simple readability transformations made code shorter and drastically reduced the time to understand it.
Following a consistent programming style
often helps readability. However, readability is more than just programming style. Many factors, having little or nothing to do with the ability of the computer to efficiently compile and execute the code, contribute to readability.
Some of these factors include:
aspects of this (such as indents, line breaks, color highlighting, and so on) are often handled by the source code editor
, but the content aspects reflect the programmer's talent and skills.
The academic field and the engineering practice of computer programming are both largely concerned with discovering and implementing the most efficient algorithms for a given class of problem. For this purpose, algorithms are classified into orders
using so-called Big O notation
, which expresses resource use, such as execution time or memory consumption, in terms of the size of an input. Expert programmers are familiar with a variety of well-established algorithms and their respective complexities and use this knowledge to choose algorithms that are best suited to the circumstances.
Chess algorithms as an example
The first step in most formal software development processes is requirements analysis
, followed by testing to determine value modeling, implementation, and failure elimination (debugging). There exist a lot of differing approaches for each of those tasks. One approach popular for requirements analysis is Use Case
analysis. Many programmers use forms of Agile software development
where the various stages of formal software development are more integrated together into short cycles that take a few weeks rather than years. There are many approaches to the Software development process.
Popular modeling techniques include Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (OOAD
) and Model-Driven Architecture (MDA
). The Unified Modeling Language (UML
) is a notation used for both the OOAD and MDA.
A similar technique used for database design is Entity-Relationship Modeling (ER Modeling
Measuring language usage
It is very difficult to determine what are the most popular modern programming languages. Methods of measuring programming language popularity include: counting the number of job advertisements that mention the language,
the number of books sold and courses teaching the language (this overestimates the importance of newer languages), and estimates of the number of existing lines of code written in the language (this underestimates the number of users of business languages such as COBOL).
Some languages are very popular for particular kinds of applications, while some languages are regularly used to write many different kinds of applications. For example, COBOL
is still strong in corporate data centers
often on large mainframe computers
in engineering applications, scripting languages
development, and C
in embedded software
. Many applications use a mix of several languages in their construction and use. New languages are generally designed around the syntax of a prior language with new functionality added, (for example C++
adds object-orientation to C, and Java
adds memory management and bytecode
to C++, but as a result, loses efficiency and the ability for low-level manipulation).
The first known actual bug causing a problem in a computer was a moth, trapped inside a Harvard mainframe, recorded in a log book entry dated September 9, 1947.
"Bug" was already a common term for a software defect when this bug was found.
Debugging is a very important task in the software development process since having defects in a program can have significant consequences for its users. Some languages are more prone to some kinds of faults because their specification does not require compilers to perform as much checking as other languages. Use of a static code analysis
tool can help detect some possible problems. Normally the first step in debugging is to attempt to reproduce the problem. This can be a non-trivial task, for example as with parallel processes or some unusual software bugs. Also, specific user environment and usage history can make it difficult to reproduce the problem.
After the bug is reproduced, the input of the program may need to be simplified to make it easier to debug. For example, when a bug in a compiler can make it crash when parsing some large source file, a simplification of the test case that results in only few lines from the original source file can be sufficient to reproduce the same crash. Trial-and-error/divide-and-conquer is needed: the programmer will try to remove some parts of the original test case and check if the problem still exists. When debugging the problem in a GUI, the programmer can try to skip some user interaction from the original problem description and check if remaining actions are sufficient for bugs to appear. Scripting and breakpointing
is also part of this process.
Debugging is often done with IDEs
. Standalone debuggers like GDB
are also used, and these often provide less of a visual environment, usually using a command line
. Some text editors such as Emacs
allow GDB to be invoked through them, to provide a visual environment.
Different programming languages support different styles of programming (called programming paradigms
). The choice of language used is subject to many considerations, such as company policy, suitability to task, availability of third-party packages, or individual preference. Ideally, the programming language best suited for the task at hand will be selected. Trade-offs from this ideal involve finding enough programmers who know the language to build a team, the availability of compilers for that language, and the efficiency with which programs written in a given language execute. Languages form an approximate spectrum from "low-level" to "high-level"; "low-level" languages are typically more machine-oriented and faster to execute, whereas "high-level" languages are more abstract and easier to use but execute less quickly. It is usually easier to code in "high-level" languages than in "low-level" ones.
, in his book How To Think Like A Computer Scientist
The details look different in different languages, but a few basic instructions appear in just about every language:
- Input: Gather data from the keyboard, a file, or some other device.
- Output: Display data on the screen or send data to a file or other device.
- Arithmetic: Perform basic arithmetical operations like addition and multiplication.
- Conditional Execution: Check for certain conditions and execute the appropriate sequence of statements.
- Repetition: Perform some action repeatedly, usually with some variation.
Many computer languages provide a mechanism to call functions provided by shared libraries
. Provided the functions in a library follow the appropriate run-time conventions (e.g., method of passing arguments
), then these functions may be written in any other language.
Computer programmers are those who write computer software. Their jobs usually involve:
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Last edited on 17 May 2021, at 16:17
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