Computer Programming Languages Overview

Computer Programming Languages Overview

What is Language?

Language is the method of human communication, either written or spoken, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.


What are Computer Languages?

Computer Languages are system of communication or interaction with a computer. 

Such languages are used to create computer code or program code, the set of instructions forming a computer program which is executed by  the computer.


What is Program?

Program is a set of instructions that can be executed by a computer to perform a specific task.

What are Programming Languages?

A program is written in some particular language called programming language.

Particular language means any language like C/C++/Java/Python etc.

Computer understands programs written in these languages. These languages can be easily translated into machine level language, which a computer understands using compilers, interpreters and assemblers.

A person who writes a program is called a Computer Programmer. 


Types of Programming Languages




Machine Language

Based on Binary digits (Bits) 0s and 1s.

Directly understand by computer.

•  All instructions given in Binary digits.

•  It is 1st Generation of Computer Language also known as 0GL or 1GL.

There are 16 bits used to define one Instruction (instruction size may be change according to machine architecture (upto 128 bits).

4 bits are used to OP-Code (operation code) and 12 bits are used to OPERAND (address / Location of value (data)).

e.g.     0001    101011111011     One instruction

                    OP       Operand 

                    code    (address/Location)



•    It can be executed very fast because no translator program used, computer machine instructions are directly understanding.



•  Machine Dependent

•  Difficult to program

•  Difficult to modify

•  Error Prone.

•  Time Consuming


Assembly Language

•    It is also known as a 2nd Generation Programming Language (2GL).

•    In this language use mnemonic code (short names) instead of binary digits. e.g. LDA – Means load Accumulator.

HLT- Halt, used at the end of program to stop

         ADD, MUL, DIV, SUB for arithmetic operations

•    The assembly language allows us to refer to instructions and memory locations by letters and symbolic names.

•    A program written in an assembly language is called an assembly language program (source code of assembly language).

•    Assembler (translator Program) is used to convert assembly language program into a machine language program. Because computer can only understand machine language and no other language.


•  Easier to read and write.

•  Easier to modify.

•  Easily re-locatable.

•  No worry about addresses.


•  Machine Dependent

•  Knowledge of hardware required.

•  Machine level coding



•    Assembler is a software or programs that translates as assembly language program into an equivalent machine language program of a computer.

•    Assembler is actually a complicated program written in machine language.

•    A program written in assembly language is called Source Program.

•    The assembler converts the source program into machine language program known as object program or code. 


High Level Language (HLL)

•    In these languages, instructions are specified as simple English like phrases and familiar mathematical symbols and expressions.

•    It is user friendly language.

•    These languages have owned its grammar and vocabulary.  

•    These phrases are then defined into low level  language code by a compiler or an interpreter.

•    Compiler and interpreter are low level language programs. 

•    A program written in a High-Level Language is  called a Source code or Source Program.

•    Compiler/Interpreter (translator Program) is used to convert High Level Language program into a machine language program known as Object Code.


Types of High-Level Language

There are three types of High-level Language-

1. 3rd GLs (Third Generation Languages)

•    It is procedural Languages.

•    A program written in a procedural language consists of detailed steps for doing a task (Developed Algorithm or logic).

•    3rd GLs can be classified into three types
– Imperative Languages:

o Imperative language is also known as procedural language. Imperative programs are made up of sequence, selection and iteration blocks.  e.g. FORTRAN, BASIC, COBOL, PASCAL, C

                     –   Functional Language: 

o Functional programming is a way of thinking about software construction by creating pure functions. e.g. LISP, Scheme.

         –  Declarative Language:

o Also called nonprocedural or very high level, are programming languages in which (ideally) a program specifies what is to be done rather than how to do it. ProLog is notably a so-called nonprocedural, or declarative

2. 4th GLs (Fourth Generation Language)

•    4th GLs are non-procedural Languages suited for developing commercial applications.

•    A 4th GL is an object oriented & event Driven language.

•    Object Oriented language organize coding around objects.

•    Also known as a 4th generation language, a domain specific language, or a high productivity language.

•    4 GLs are designed to reduce the overall time, effort and cost of software development.

•    A 4th GLs does not require detailed  programming.

•    Example of 4th GLs are: SQL, Focus, Visual Basic, Java, C#, Python etc.

3. 5th GLs (Fifth Generation Language)

•    5th GLs are an outgrowth of research in the area of artificial intelligence.

•    A fifth-generation programming language is a programming language are designed to make the computer solve the problem of you.

•    Fifth generation computing devices, based on AI.

•    Are still in development, through there are some applications, such as voice recognition.

•    The goal of 5th GL computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization.

•    Fifth generation language comes in 1986 –onward

•    They are more reliable, works faster, easily portable, different features, different sizes, extra high processing speed, parallel processing and wireless.

•    Prolog, OPS5 and Mercury are the best known fifth generation languages.


•    Easy to write and understand

•    Easy to isolate an error

•    Machine independent language

•    Easy to maintain

•    Better readability

•    Low Development cost

•    Easier to document

•    Portable


•    Needs translator

•    Requires high execution time

•    Poor control on hardware

•    Less efficient

Difference between Machine, Assembly, High Level Languages


•    Language Processors also known as Translator Programs.

•    A Language Processors are special translator System Software is used to translate the program written in high-level language (Source-Code) into machine code is called Language Processor and the program after translated into machine code (object program / object code).

•    The program translated by language processor is understood by the hardware of the computer

•    There are three types of translators. These are:

§ Assembler

§ Compiler      

§ Interpreter 

1. Assembler

•    It is Translator Programs that translates as assembly language program into an equivalent machine language program of a computer.

•    Assembler is actually a complicated program written in machine language.

•    A program written in assembly language is called Source Program.

•    The assembler converts the source program into machine language program known as object program or code. 

2. Compiler

•    Compiler is a Translator Programs that translates as High-Level Language program into an equivalent machine language program of a computer.

•    It converts entire program at a time.

•    A program written in HLL is called Source Program.

•    The Compiler converts the source program into machine language program known as Object Program or Object Code. 

3. Interpreter

•    An Interpreter is a Translator Programs that translates (converts) a High-Level Language program into an equivalent machine language program.

•    It converts line by line (one statement) of a program at a time.

•    It is slower than the compiler process.

•    Immediately executes he resulting machine language instruction.

Difference between Compiler and interpreter




Compiler Takes Entire Program as input and Convert Entire Program at a time.

Interpreter Takes one instruction as input and convert line by line (one instruction at a time

Intermediate Object code is Generated

No Intermediate Object code is Generated

Executes Faster (Fast Processing)

Executes slower (Slow Processing)

Program need not be compiled every time

Every time higher level program is converted into lower level program

Errors are displayed after entire program is checked

Errors are displayed for every instruction interpreted

More Memory Required

Less Memory Required

Example: C/C++ compiler, COBOL, PASCAL

Example: BASIC, SQL, VB


Generation of Programming Languages


There are five generation of Programming languages.  These are:

1. First Generation Languages: (1940-50)

Low-level languages like machine language.

2. Second Generation Languages: (1950-58)

Low-level assembly languages used in kernels and hardware drives.

3. Third Generation Languages: (1958-85)

High-level languages like BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, PASCAL, C, C++.

4. Fourth Generation Languages: (1985-onwards)

Similar to statements in the human language. These are used mainly in database programming and scripting. Example of these languages include Perl, Python, Ruby, SQL, MatLab.

5. Fifth Generation Languages:
(Present and Beyond)

These are the programming languages that have visual tools to develop a program. Examples of fifth generation language include Mercury, OPS5, and Prolog.



Making Programs

•    Computer is a machine.

•    It is machine with memory

•    It is calculating machine having memory

•    It does not have a brain

•    It therefore cannot think

•    Computer need guidance to work

•    Guidance is given through program.

•    Program is written in a binary code.

•    This code is known as machine code

•    Machine code is very difficult.

•    This program is written in English-like
language So we write a program in simple language.

•    This language is called high level language.

•     One such language is C.

•     It is easy to learn

•     Very close to English

•     It is learnt in all countries

•     It has a simple grammar

•    We need program for every work

•    We can work well if program is there.

•    We can save time, if we work as per a program

•    In a program, we make the list of action to be taken i.e. instructions.

•    Then we arrange them in some sequences (order) one by one.

•    That is which action to be taken first and which next.

•    Instructions arranged in a sequence are known as program

•    When drawn in a sketch form it is known as  flowchart.



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