Computer Programming - Overview

Introduction to Computer Program

Before getting into computer programming, let us first understand computer programs and what they do.

A computer program is a sequence of instructions written using a Computer Programming Language to perform a specified task by the computer.

The two important terms that we have used in the above definition are −

  • Sequence of instructions
  • Computer Programming Language

To understand these terms, consider a situation when someone asks you about how to go to a nearby KFC. What exactly do you do to tell him the way to go to KFC?

You will use Human Language to tell the way to go to KFC, something as follows −

First go straight, after half kilometer, take left from the red light and then drive around one kilometer and you will find KFC at the right.

Here, you have used English Language to give several steps to be taken to reach KFC. If they are followed in the following sequence, then you will reach KFC −

1.	Go straight
2.	Drive half kilometer
3.	Take left
4.	Drive around one kilometer
5.	Search for KFC at your right side

Now, try to map the situation with a computer program. The above sequence of instructions is actually a Human Program written in English Language, which instructs on how to reach KFC from a given starting point. This same sequence could have been given in Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, or any other human language, provided the person seeking direction knows any of these languages.

Now, let's go back and try to understand a computer program, which is a sequence of instructions written in a Computer Language to perform a specified task by the computer. Following is a simple program written in Python programming Language −

print "Hello, World!"

The above computer program instructs the computer to print "Hello, World!" on the computer screen.

  • A computer program is also called a computer software, which can range from two lines to millions of lines of instructions.

  • Computer program instructions are also called program source code and computer programming is also called program coding.

  • A computer without a computer program is just a dump box; it is programs that make computers active.

As we have developed so many languages to communicate among ourselves, computer scientists have developed several computer-programming languages to provide instructions to the computer (i.e., to write computer programs). We will see several computer programming languages in the subsequent chapters.

Introduction to Computer Programming

If you understood what a computer program is, then we will say: the act of writing computer programs is called computer programming.

As we mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of programming languages, which can be used to write computer programs and following are a few of them −

  • Java
  • C
  • C++
  • Python
  • PHP
  • Perl
  • Ruby

Uses of Computer Programs

Today computer programs are being used in almost every field, household, agriculture, medical, entertainment, defense, communication, etc. Listed below are a few applications of computer programs −

  • MS Word, MS Excel, Adobe Photoshop, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc., are examples of computer programs.

  • Computer programs are being used to develop graphics and special effects in movie making.

  • Computer programs are being used to perform Ultrasounds, X-Rays, and other medical examinations.

  • Computer programs are being used in our mobile phones for SMS, Chat, and voice communication.

Computer Programmer

Someone who can write computer programs or in other words, someone who can do computer programming is called a Computer Programmer.

Based on computer programming language expertise, we can name a computer programmers as follows −

  • C Programmer
  • C++ Programmer
  • Java Programmer
  • Python Programmer
  • PHP Programmer
  • Perl Programmer
  • Ruby Programmer


From programming point of view, an algorithm is a step-by-step procedure to resolve any problem. An algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite set of well-defined instructions.

Thus, a computer programmer lists down all the steps required to resolve a problem before writing the actual code. Following is a simple example of an algorithm to find out the largest number from a given list of numbers −

1. Get a list of numbers L1, L2, L3....LN
2. Assume L1 is the largest, Largest = L1
3. Take next number Li from the list and do the following
4. If Largest is less than Li
5. Largest = Li
6. If Li is last number from the list then
7. Print value stored in Largest and come out
8. Else repeat same process starting from step 3

The above algorithm has been written in a crude way to help beginners understand the concept. You will come across more standardized ways of writing computer algorithms as you move on to advanced levels of computer programming.