Computer Programming Languages

The term computer language is an alternate name for the more commonly used term, programming language. Programming languages are a part of computer languages. A program is written in a specific language that a computer can understand and interpret. The language is called the computer language or programming language. The person writing a program is called a programmer. The programmer must follow the syntax and the semantics of the programming language to write a program.

Some of the most commonly used programming languages are C, C++, Java, PASCAL,, Visual Basic, etc.

Types of computer programming languages

1) Low-Level Languages or Machine-Level Languages

A computer is an electronic machine, which can understand any instruction given to it in the coded form. The languages that a computer understands directly consist of codes in the form of zeros and ones (0s and 1s) and they are termed as machine language. Ex= 1011111 1110101 ……..


  • Computers can understand machine code without any conversion. Hence, the processing is very fast.
  • Machine languages make efficient use of storage (instructions and their storage in computer memory can be easily controlled).
  • Machine language instructions can be used to manipulate the individual bits in a byte of computer storage.


  • These languages are architecture-dependent.
  • It is difficult to remember the codes.
  • It is difficult to correct or modify machine language programs. Checking the machine instructions to locate errors is as tedious as writing them from the origin.

2) Assembly-level language or middle-level language

  • The drawback of machine language leads to the introduction of a new programming language called the assembly language.
  • Assembly level language uses mnemonic code.
  • The language substitutes letters and symbols (mnemonics) for the numbers in the machine program.
  • Assembly language is also called symbolic language. A program written in a symbolic language is called an assembly code or a symbolic program.
  • Ex: ADD A is the symbolic operation code to represent addition and SUB B for subtraction. Here, ADD A and SUB B represent the mnemonic code.


  • Assembly level language is very flexible and powerful.
  • It is faster in comparison to the high-level languages
  • Needs a translator to convert this to machine language for the machine to understand


  • This language is architecture-dependent. This means that the program written for one compiler cannot run on another one.
  • Coding takes a lot of time as the language is complex by nature.

3) High-level languages

  • To overcome the difficulties of machine and assembly level languages such as architecture dependency, difficult to understand, etc. high-level programming languages were developed.
  • High-level languages are closer to English languages and hence the name high-level language.

High-level languages are classified into two types:

1)General-purpose language: They can be used to solve a wide variety of problems such as business problems, scientific problems, and graphical applications and so on. Ex= C, C++, Java, etc.

2) Specific-purpose languages: They can be used to solve only certain kinds of problems. Ex= COBOL and FORTRAN


  • A program written in a high-level language is easy to understand and written because it is closer to the English language.
  • It is machine-independent.


  • As the programs are written in high-level language take more time to run and require more main storage, they prove to be less efficient in the use of the CPU and other facilities.
  • A source of a program written in this language needs a compiler translator, which is loaded into the main memory of the computer. This occupies much of the memory space. The memory available for a source program is greatly reduced.

Languages Processors in computer programming

Nowadays, programming is carried out in high-level languages like C, C++, etc. In order to convert high-level language programs to machine-level language, language processors are used.

Type of language processors

  • Compiler
  • Interpreter
  • Assemblers


  • It is a program translator that translates the instruction of a high-level language to machine language. It reads the entire program first and then translates it into machine code.
  • The program written by the programmer in a high-level language is called a source program or source code. When this program is converted to machine language by the compiler it is called an object program.
  • A compiler can translate only those source programs, which are written, in a particular language for which the compiler is meant for. For example, the COBOL compiler will not compile source code written in C language.
  • The object program generated by the compiler is machine-dependent. That means programs compiled for one type of machine will not run in another type. Therefore, every type of machine must have its own type of personal compiler for a particular language. Machine independence is achieved by using high-level language in different machines.
  • Languages that use a compiler like C and PASCAL etc.


  • An interpreter is also a program translator used for translating the high-level language into the machine language. But it takes one statement of a high-level language, translates it into machine language and then executes it immediately. Translation and execution are carried out for each statement. BASIC and LISP languages are interpreter based.
  • The advantage of an interpreter when compared to the compiler is its fast response to changes in the source programs. It eliminates the need for a separate compilation after the changes made to a program.
  • Interpreter programs are easy to write and occupy less space in memory.
  • The disadvantage of the interpreter is that translation takes place for every line of source code. Hence it is time-consuming. Thus, the compiled machine language program runs much faster than an interpreted program.
  • Also, an interpreter has no memory to store the translated lines. Every time a program is executed, the source code has to be converted afresh.
  • Some of the computer high-level programming languages that use an interpreter are BASIC, COBOL, PERL, ASP, etc.


  • An assembler is a computer program for translating an assembly language, essentially, a mnemonic representation into object code or the machine code.
  • Assembler is only used by assembly-level languages.
  • Some assemblers are MASM (macro assembler), TASM (turbo assembler)  etc.

Note: Java language has both the compiler and interpreter. The source code is first converted to a byte code by a compiler and then a byte code is interpreted to generate a machine-independent executable code.

Some concept of programming languages

Modular programming

  • Modular programming refers to a technique in which the logical parts of a problem are divided into a series of individual routines so that each may be programmed independently.

Procedural programming

  • Procedural programming refers to functions and the execution of the functions. It emphasizes more on procedure than the data.

Event-driven programming

  • Programming the code that executes in response to an event is called event-driven programming.
  • Events are the actions or notifications that are used to initiate code execution. In visual basic, the programmer has the ability to create a graphical user interface (GUI) by pointing and clicking with the mouse. The programmer creates the GUI and writes code to describe what happens when the user intersects (clicks, load, double-click, etc.) with the GUI.
  • For example= Visual Basic.

Object-oriented programming (OOP)

  • In object-oriented programming, a program is no longer a series of instructions, but a collection of objects these objects contain both data and instructions that are assigned to classes and can perform specific tasks.
  • With this approach, programmers can build programs from pre-existing objects and can use features from one program in another. These results in faster development time reduced maintenance costs and improved flexibility for future revisions.
  • Some examples of object-oriented languages are C++, Java, and Ada.

 Rapid application development (RAD)

  • The process of rapidly creating an application is typically referred to as Rapid Application Development. Visual Basic is the world’s most widely used RAD language in past years.

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