What Is Computer Programming? A Brief About Computer Programming And Related Terms

8 min readApr 12, 2022

Table of content:

  • What is Computer Programming?
  • What is a Programming Language?
  • Who is a Computer Programmer?
  • Steps of Programming Process
  • What are Algorithms?
  • What are Control Structures?
  • What are Data Structures?
  • What are Software Programs?

In today’s world, computers can perform distinct tasks, from trivial to highly complex ones. However, the main difference between a human and a computer is that it is unable to think on its own and requires detailed explanation as to what needs to be done. Hence, computer programming is required. It is a process where computer professionals write code to provide instructions to a computer or a software program to perform certain functions or actions. Let’s learn more about computer programming and some other terms related to.


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What is Computer Programming?

Computer programming is the process of designing, writing, testing, debugging, and maintaining the code of computer programs. The main purpose of programming is to create a sequence of instructions for the computers to follow so that they can perform the desired operations. This is done with the help of a programmer who is a professional responsible for the development of the source code.

What is a Programming Language?

As humans, we communicate with each other using some language, be it English, Hindi, French, etc. However, computers are unable to understand human languages and can think only in binary language which consists of strings of 0’s and 1’s. Programming languages help to bridge the gap between the computer and the software developer. These languages are classified into two types- ‘Low-level language’ and ‘High-level language.’

Low-level language: It is a machine-friendly language. It is difficult to understand and is highly memory efficient. It is complex to debug and maintain. Machine language and assembly language are two types of a low-level languages.

High-level language: The high-level language is programmer-friendly language. It is easy to understand and is less memory efficient. It is easy to debug and maintain. There are hundreds of programming languages. High-level languages help us in performing a wide range of tasks, such as video game development, artificial intelligence. The most popular and common high-level languages are: Java, C++, Python, C#, JavaScript.

History of Programming Language

The first programming language was developed in 1843 by Ada Lovelace. She wrote the first-ever algorithm for the computing machine. She had to write it on a piece of paper as no computers existed at that time. Around 1944–45, the first real programming language was created by Konrad Zuse known as Plankalkül. Some of the earliest programming languages are Assembly Language, Shortcode, Autocode, and FORTRAN. The programming languages kept developing and today we have various languages which are used for front-end and back-end development.


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Who is a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers deal with writing and testing code that allows the computer and its applications to perform efficiently. The programmers work in various fields apart from core computer science, such as academia, medicine, government etc. They are required to be proficient in many programming languages and develop the technical skills to thrive in their positions.

Apart from the technical skills, they also need soft skills to communicate effectively with their colleagues and solve problems. They should be able to perform multiple tasks and focus completely on the problem given.

The tasks performed by them are:

  • System conception and design
  • System development
  • System analysis
  • Writing code
  • Testing and debugging
  • Implementation

Steps of Programming Process

Programming is nothing but solving the given problem by defining the steps of the process. This process has 5 major steps:

  • Defining the problem
  • Planning the solution
  • Coding the program
  • Testing the program
  • Documenting the program

1. Defining the problem: The first and foremost part of the process is the problem statement definition. The developer interacts with the customers to analyze the problem at hand and tries to capture what the user expects the system to provide. It consists of identifying the inputs available and what is the expected outcome. Eventually, the developer produces a written statement that specifies the input, processing, and output.

2. Planning the solution: This consists of coming up with an algorithm that can be used for solving the problem efficiently. Some common ways are using drawing flowcharts or writing pseudo-code.

3. Coding the program: In this step, the programmer tries to express the solution in a programming language. It consists of making use of the algorithm which we had derived and converting it in the form of a code. While programming, one thing we have to follow is the rules/syntaxes of the language.

4. Testing the program: The program can be checked whether it is working well mathematically or by making use of the test cases. While using test cases, one has to be careful of the edge cases as these are the ones that usually cause errors. Most of the time, the newly written code will have few errors, but the programmers can make the necessary corrections.

5. Documenting the program: Documentation is a written description of the whole programming process. It consists of the problem statement, the different algorithms used, data record descriptions, program listings, and the testing results. Most programmers tend to document the program throughout the process.


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What are Algorithms?

Algorithms are part of the planning of computer programs. Algorithm generation is an important part of programming. It is an effective way to solve the problem with finite number of steps. A well-designed and efficient algorithm will provide an answer and it is guaranteed to terminate. There are four ways of stating algorithms which are as follows: Step form, Pseudocode, Flowchart, and Nassi-Schneiderman.

  • Step form representation: The procedure of solving the problem is given in the form of written statements. Each statement helps in solving a part of the problem.
  • Pseudo Code: It is a written form of representation of an algorithm, but it uses restricted vocabulary for defining the actions needed in solving the problem.
  • Flowchart and Nassi-Schneiderman: These are graphically oriented representation forms. They make use of symbols and language for representing sequence, decision, and repetition actions.

While developing, the reliability of algorithms needs to be considered. Proving the correctness of algorithm is crucial and this can be done by using test cases. Testing code against the user-generated test cases is done to check if the algorithm works properly.

Example of Algorithm:

To find the sum of two numbers

  1. START
  4. INPUT A, B
  5. R=A+B
  7. PRINT R
  8. STOP

What are Control Structures?

Control structures are considered the building blocks of any programming language. They are a way of defining the flow of control in programs. It helps the program in taking decisions based on the conditions provided by the programmer and the input provided by the user.

Branching: The if-else statement consists of some conditions and they are followed by the statements. The if statement will execute a single statement, or a group of statements when the expression following the if is true. If the statement is false then we move on to the else part.

Looping: By using this concept, we can make the computer perform a set of instructions repeatedly. This involves repeating some portion of the program either a specified number of times or until a condition is satisfied. There are three methods: for loop, while loop, and do-while statement.


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What are Data Structures?

Data structures are a way of storing data such that it can be accessed later easily and used for different operations. It can be arranged in different ways. Following are the two types of data structures:

  • Linear data structures
  • Non-linear data structures

A data structure is linear if its elements are placed in a specific order. In this type, we can either store them in arrays that have contiguous memory allocation or in a linked list where the elements are stored at random locations and accessed with the help of pointers.

In non-linear structures, the data does not form an order but the items are interconnected like in a graph or tree.

What are Software Programs?

Software programs, also written as SW or S/W are a collection of instructions that help the user in interacting with the hardware. It is important as without it a computer will not work. An example of software would be the operating system, which acts as an interface between the hardware and software and also manages the resources. There are two groups of software:

  • System software
  • Application software

The system software makes sure the hardware provides the required functionalities to the user. It acts as a middle layer between the client and the hardware. When we turn on our computer, the system software is the first to be loaded into the memory, and then it carries out its responsibilities. Some examples are operating systems, device drivers, and utilities.

Applications software helps the user in performing various tasks, such as using the word processor for writing down notes, listening to music, playing games. They are above the system software, and unlike system software, they can perform only a few functions. There are different kinds of application software such as presentation software, business application software, database software(database management systems).

Summing Up

At the start of the programming era, computers were able to perform basic functions like addition, subtraction. Then technology kept developing and we were able to make the computers perform much more complicated tasks. Now we have machine learning and artificial intelligence where we are making the computer think by itself and take decisions on its own by using its past experiences. Computer programming has certainly come a long way since its inception.

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