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What is a high-level programming language?
A high-level programming language is a language closer to human beings in terms of structure and syntax. This contrasts with a low-level programming language closer to machine code.
High-level languages were initially developed so that programmers could create software more quickly without worrying about the underlying hardware. However, with the development of more sophisticated compilers and interpreters, high-level languages can now be used to create portable software across different types of hardware.
The history of high-level programming languages
The first high-level programming language was Plankalkufffdl, created by Konrad Zuse in 1941. However, this language was not implemented until 1998. In the meantime, several other high-level languages were developed, including Fortran (1957), ALGOL (1958), and COBOL (1959).
High-level languages are designed to be easy for humans to understand, using a more natural language syntax instead of machine code. Unfortunately, this means that programs written in high-level languages can be much longer and more complex than those noted in low-level languages such as assembly code.
High-level languages are usually compiled into machine code, which can then be run on a computer. However, some high-level languages, such as Python and Ruby, are interpreted, which means they are converted into machine code on the fly as the program is run.
The benefits of high-level programming languages
High-level programming languages are more natural for people to learn and use because they are closer to everyday English. This makes them more accessible and quicker for programmers to write, debug and maintain.
High-level languages also allow more flexibility and portability than machine code, meaning that programs can be easily moved from one type of computer to another.
The drawbacks of high-level programming languages
One drawback is that high-level languages are usually slower than low-level languages. This is because the code written in a high-level language has to be translated into machine code (the language of computers) before it can be run. This translation process takes time, making your program run more slowly.
Another drawback is that high-level languages are less flexible than low-level languages. This means that they can sometimes be less powerful, and you may not be able to do everything you want to do with them.
The future of high-level programming languages
With the increasing popularity of computer programming, many new high-level programming languages have been developed in recent years. Some of these languages are more user-friendly, while others are intended for more specific purposes. As the field of computer programming continues to evolve, new high-level programming languages will likely emerge and become widely used.
How to choose the correct high-level programming language?
First, you need to decide what your computer will be used for. For example, if you want to create sophisticated graphics or perform complex mathematical operations, you will need a language designed for those tasks, such as C++.
To write code that will run on any computer, you must choose a machine-independent language such as Java. Python and Ruby are two examples of easy-to-learn languages and are famous for creating web applications.
The AQA exam board advises computer science students to proficiently at least two programming languages. So, if you are studying for your GCSEs or A-levels, it is worth considering learning two or more high-level languages.
High-level programming languages for beginners
If you’re starting to learn to code or want to move on from a basic level, you’ll need to choose a high-level programming language. But with so many options available, how do you make the right choice?
Here’s a run-down of some of the most popular high-level programming languages to help you make an informed decision.
One of the most powerful programming languages, C++ is perfect for building large-scale applications. It’s also fast and can be used for low-level systems programming. However, it has a steep learning curve and isn’t recommended for beginners.
Python is known for its ease of use and readability as a widely used high-level interpreted language. It’s, therefore, an excellent choice for beginners. Python is also versatile in web development, scientific computing, and artificial intelligence.
A versatile and widely used language, Java can be used for developing mobile apps, desktop apps, web apps, and games. It’s relatively easy to learn compared to other languages and has many libraries. However, it can be slow compared to compiled languages such as C++.