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What is Programming?

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Programming for Kids : What is it and Why Should Your Kids Learn it?

Technology has paved the road of the future. As the fields of banking, medicine, education, law and finance all become steeped in tech, the future generation will have to navigate the ever-changing world hand-in-hand with computers.

Parents will have to prepare and guide their children to associate more closely with computers. It will also help them on a foundational level. Children should be able to grasp the basics of computers, including what is computer programming?

Computer programming is nothing but a means by which communication with computers is done. It instructs the machines to perform useful tasks.

As a parent who is interested in getting your child started on programming, you may have several questions regarding the field. Since coding and programming have only recently become in vogue, you may not have the answers to basic questions like what is programming, how to get started on programming and why is programming useful or necessary. These confusions make you unable to answer the questions of your child.

In this article on programming, a couple of concepts like what is computer programming and what is coding is discussed. It will help you to answer the questions you might have regarding this domain, so you can guide your child along.

What is Programming?

To begin answering this question, one needs some background understanding of computers. A computer is a machine that works on digital signals. These signals are ON and OFF, which make up the primary language that is understandable to a computer.

This language is called Boolean algebra, which is a language of 1(ON) and 0s(OFF), and it is what the computer can work with. As humans, giving the computer instructions in 0s and 1s is not feasible since many errors may enter the work and the process becomes time-consuming.

Hence one needs a “language” with which they can communicate with the computer. This created the rise of assembly languages, which are nothing but mnemonics of commands like addition (ADD), subtraction (SUB) and multiplication (MUL).

Again lengthy programs could not be written in this form, so scientists had to come up with a high-level language which is easy for programmers to give instructions to the computer. These high-level languages are JAVA, C, C++, Python etc.

Programming is writing instructions in any of these programming languages and getting the computer to perform some useful tasks. Hopefully now, some questions like what is computer programming and what is programming are clear to you.

Understanding Programming in Simple Terms

In simple terms, programming is giving the computer instructions in a programming language to complete specific tasks.

You may have used many computer programs on a day to day basis already. For example, the web browser that you use to search the day’s news is a computer program. It is designed to connect to a remote server and fetch the day’s news. Also, the calculator on a phone is another example of a computer program.

There are computer programs embedded in washing machines and microwaves as well. These are called microprograms and are programmed to perform only a few specific tasks.

Computers are used in stock markets to give a real-time value indication of stocks. It is used in medicine to calculate the power of the lens required for eyes and various other reasons. The impact of computers is vast and they are beneficial since they can work without tiring and complete tasks accurately. What is programming and what is computer programming are the same questions that are answered in this section.

Why Should You Learn to Program?

Now that it is clear what is programming and what is computer programming, one can proceed to understand why they should learn to program. There are two aspects to this answer.

As an adult, you should learn to program since doing so can help you develop useful applications for yourself like a finance tracker, a diary or even a game. Programming teaches you to be persistent at a task. It teaches you new concepts all the while proving to be useful since you can develop apps and programs to make your life easy.

For children, however, programming opens up a whole new world that they can create on their own. Through coding, they will learn how to solve problems in multiple ways.

Also, critical thinking skills will be developed. Logic and reasoning are the other skills that children will pick up through programming. Most importantly, they will learn that the way to solve problems is through sequential steps using conditions. This sequential thinking is key to computer programming.

Computers cannot use brute force to solve problems. To be relevant, they have to solve problems via the use of algorithms, which are step-by-step solutions to any complex problems.

Learning to come up with an algorithm is undoubtedly the biggest takeaway from the programming. Children can then apply this knowledge in different ways to whatever subject they are studying.

Programming vs Coding: What is the Difference?

Now that you know what is programming, you may be confused about the difference between coding and programming. The difference has to do with the jargon. Programming is the development of a software solution while coding is simply translating instructions into code that is understandable by the computer.

In an everyday manner of speaking, both terms are used interchangeably. However, programmers are usually more skilled than mere coders. They have to utilise more knowledge to develop programs, while coders merely act as translators of code.

What is a Programming Language?

A programming language is any language in which a person can give instructions to a computer. Programming languages are created with different end uses in mind. Once you understand what is programming, you will understand the different philosophies that go into making a programming language.

There are many levels of programming and different programming paradigms. The levels are high-level, which is easy for humans to understand but not computers. There is also low-level language, which is basically a string of 0s and 1s. In between high-level and low-level is the assembly level language.

There are various programming paradigms such as object-oriented programming, procedural, functional, and logic-oriented languages. Each of these language types encompasses one particular programming philosophy. For example, object-oriented programming views everything in this world as objects. Accordingly, it builds up a vast field of study on how to treat objects.

3 Best Programming Languages for Beginners

The three best programming languages that should be learned today are Python, Java and JavaScript. These languages are chosen because of their widespread use in real-life applications.

Python is a language that is versatile and friendly for beginners. The language is used vastly in developing games and web applications, so learning this will really help you to be on-trend job-wise.

Java is the first programming language of choice in schools and colleges to build up the concepts of programming. It is a useful programming construct to make safe and secure web applications.

JavaScript is the programming language of choice for creating interactive web pages. It can be embedded in web pages. Any one of these three languages will make you desirable in the job market.

Benefits of Learning Computer Programming

There are many benefits to learning computer programming. It develops critical skills and logical thinking as well as sequential thinking capabilities. Computer programming helps one to understand algorithms and improves Mathematical skills. Now that you know what is computer programming, you can easily reap these benefits.

You must understand the importance of programming as well as why children should get started on it as soon as possible. Hopefully, now you are confident enough to tackle computers and programming in a way, unlike before!

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FAQs on What is Programming?

Q1. What is Programming Used for?

Ans. At its core, programming is the method by which one gets a computer to do some type of work. Taking an everyday example of budgeting, one can understand how programming is useful. For budgeting, one has to add up the expenses and deduct from the principal amount to see how much is left. Now this task has to be performed every month, and it becomes tedious to do.

Instead, if one writes a computer program to do the budgeting, they can easily make the machine work on their behalf. All one has to do is enter the expenses, and the computer will perform the deductions and show the amount that is remaining. Many complicated and repetitive tasks are greatly simplified, thanks to computer programs!

In a nutshell, programming is used to simplify many tasks by making the computer work on one’s behalf. It saves time, effort, and energy and frees up time so one can focus on other more useful work.

Q2. What do you Mean by Programming?

Ans. By programming, one indicates to writing code that the computer executes to perform some meaningful tasks. Programming is usually performed by a person known as a programmer. He or she writes “code”, which is nothing but a sequence of instructions in a particular programming language.

This code is then run by the computer which executes the code sequence instruction by instruction. Various languages can be used to program. Most of the easiest languages to pick up are high-level languages like Python, Java and C++. Using these languages, you can write instructions which only a computer can understand. At its essence, programming is a way to talk to or instruct the computer to perform some tasks.

Q3. Is Programming Easy?

Ans. The answer to this question depends on the person who is coding. Programming has its foundations in algorithms, mathematics, logic, creative thinking, intuition and critical thinking. If a child has developed these skills, then he or she will find coding easy and a fun activity. However, if they are weak in these regards, coding can also help them develop the required skills in this area.

So the right answer is that programming dramatically depends on the thinking capacity of the individual. While logic, mathematics, and algorithms can be taught, how much the child can absorb depends on him or her.

Q4. What are the Four Types of Programming Languages?

Ans. Programming languages are classified into four types based on their programming philosophy and paradigms. These four types are procedural, functional, object-oriented and logic programming.

Procedural programming language relies heavily on a sequence of executable steps. A procedure is a unit of functionality that usually accomplishes one or more specific tasks. In procedural programming, the major units of programming are variables, functions, statements and conditional operators. Examples include FORTRAN and C.

Functional programming languages, on the other hand, focus mostly on the return value of the functions. Functions can be taken as arguments and returned from other functions. Every action is not performed by the writing of statements but by calling functions. Examples include Common Lisp and Haskell.

Object-oriented programming is a dramatic shift from both procedural and functional programming languages. They envision every concept as an object which has its own functions as well as data types. An object-oriented programming language is useful when it comes to web development. Some examples of this programming paradigm include Java and Ruby.

Logic programming paradigm has its roots in “formal logic”. Programs are written as a series of statements that are expressed in logic form. The major logic programming language is Prolog which is highly useful in artificial intelligence.