Computer Programming: Chapter: 02 – Know the Basics

In the previous article Computer Programming: Chapter: 01 – Introduction, I spoke about what is programming and ended it by saying that computers do not understand English or for that matter any language we humans speak. I said that computers only understand the language of 0’s and 1’s.

If you have used a computer for any purpose till now, you will not agree with me, since you have been using it mostly in English or any other language that you know. You would have watched movies, listened to songs, created documents, sent e-mails, browsed lot of sites and even you would have read my articles in one of the human readable languages. Also if you have written a program or even seen somebody doing it, you might have noticed that even they have not been using the language of 0’s and 1’s.

Even if you agree that there are people who knows this language of 0’s and 1’s, looking at the second important point I said that “The instructions should be PRECISE”, you might be wondering that it will be next to impossible to even write a simple computer program, if what I am saying is true.

Today, to use a computer you need not know how a computer works or what language does it speak? All you need to do is simply turn on a computer and when it is ready use the mouse and keyboard to point at some little graphical object on the screen, click a button, Swipe a finger or two in case of a touch screen device to get a computer to do what is required of it. An example would be what you need to read this article.

The reason computers are so easy to use today because of the hard work of some programmers who have programmed for it to behave in a certain way. And, here we are not trying to use a computer, but to learn how to program a computer. But the computer doesn’t know anything except 0’s & 1’s called binary language, and remember not all computers speak the same dialect. That is the reason a program on a desktop computer does not run on an iMac and vice versa.

Let me explain with an example of two blind people, where in the first person (let us call him as Person-A) knows only English and the other person (let us call him as Person-B) knows only Sanskrit. Person-A wants Person-B to draw a sketch? Now, how do you expect these two to communicate with each other, isn’t it difficult. Person-A can’t even show in writing since the Person-B being blind. The only way of communicating is through speech in a known language, and by giving precise instructions.

Now, the only way they both can communicate with each other is by having an interpreter. Now when the Person-A speaks in English, the interpreter then translates it into Sanskrit and repeats it to the Person-B. When the Person-B says something in Sanskrit, the interpreter again translates and repeats the sentence in English to the Person-A. Now with the help of interpreter, both are able to communicate very easily.

By using the interpreter solves our language problem. We still have another problem at our hand. That is Person-A is asking Person-B who is blind to draw a sketch. Though this is not something that is impossible, but it is difficult, unless you know how to instruct. Even if Person-A is able to now communicate, he should know the steps in a proper order and very precisely, otherwise he will get Person-B to draw something, but not what he would be expecting. Person-A should know every minute detail very precisely, since the Person-B is blind, he will just follow whatever Person-A instructs. If the Person-A asks him to draw a line of 1.23 cm, from a particular point with a certain degree, Person-B without even questioning anything just does that without even thinking about the outcome. If Person-A knows how to instruct precisely and exactly in the way it is required, then Person-B will draw what he wants in the way he wants.

If we get back to computer programs, and use the same approach as in the above example everything becomes very simple and easy. Replace Person-A with yourself and Person-B with the computer. Now the first thing you need is an interpreter and the second is you should know what you want and the precise steps that is required, so that you can get the work done.

To Read or Write a Binary code or program is unfortunately very difficult for humans. So we have to use some kind of program that can translate something we instruct in English into Binary language and vice versa. These programs which can translate our instructions in English into Binary code are surprisingly called as an interpreter.

Do these interpreters really understand English?

This will be the question that might be running in your mind now. The answer is Yes & No.

Yes, since we use English words programming languages, and No since computers are still not up to that level so as to understand what we speak be it in any language. This type of language is known as high level languages. By using the term languages, I am not referring to various languages such as English, French, etc., but I am referring to the high level languages that we use to write programs, which are then interpreted and converted into binary code so as to make the computers understand it. High Level languages are covered in more detail in the coming sections.

Learning Computer Programming – The Right Approach Which Most Don’t Follow

I regard programming as the most interesting subject on the earth. But, to my dismay, most of the students undergoing some computer programming training course, freshers, and even experienced programmers I come across exhibit programming skills much below my expectations.

I think this happens because while beginning computer programming, students miss the right approach. Programming is a different type of subject – it requires a different approach. Beginning computer programming without really understanding how to learn programming is disastrous. But, surprisingly, most of the computer programming training courses I have seen begin abruptly, without addressing this first. If you search on Google, you will find numerous articles and tutorials for learning programming. But, I am yet to find one which really touches the basics, so that the foundation of the student is properly built.

What is Programming?

In simple terms, programming is teaching somebody how to do a task. Obvious examples are

  • teaching a child how to add some numbers
  • teaching a housewife how to prepare some recipe
  • any teaching under the earth that you can imagine

For programming human beings, we use some language, such as English, French, Hindi. For programming computers, we use some language computers understand. Some examples of computer languages are C, Pascal, Python, Java.

Human beings are very intelligent and hence human languages like English are extremely complex. The same statement might mean different things in different scenario in English. In contrast, computers are the stupidest beings in the world, and so the language used to teach them are quite simple. So, for a human being like you, learning a computer language is really easy and fun. And, once you know one computer language, learning another is as easy as knowing few more words.

What Are the Benefits of Pursuing Computer Programming As a Career?

I would like to share with you some of the benefits of pursuing computer programming as a career, but before we explore these benefits let us look at a quick definition of computer programming.

There are indeed many definitions of computer programming, but to keep things as simple and relevant as possible I would define computer programming as that skill which empowers us to communicate with computers in a language which they understand in order that they can perform specific tasks for us.

Everyday examples of these tasks would be the running of a spreadsheet program, a word processor or an email program. For example a spreadsheet program has to be loaded and activated by a computer before we can use it. When it is loaded and activated the computer is said to be “running” the program.

Hence a computer programmer’s job would be to write the instructions which comprise the spreadsheet program in a language understood by the computer. This set of written instructions is commonly referred to as a software application or computer program.

Because computers are a lot smaller cheaper and more numerous than that which obtained a couple of decades ago, we find that there are many more potential clients who need various applications.

More importantly with the widespread availability of the internet a lot of these computers are connected together. This is why a career as a computer programmer is definitely worthy of your consideration.

However having said all this we must remember that computer programming is not for everyone, but if you do fit the bill then a whole new world awaits you and you will find yourself limited mainly by your own creativity and imagination.

Now here are some of the benefits of pursuing computer programming as a career.

1. As a computer programmer there is generally a strong demand and hence a higher likelihood of either getting a job or remaining in employment if you already have one.

2. While working in this space you will generally find that flexible working hours is an option.

3. There is in many cases the potential ability to work almost anywhere rather than having to commute.

4. The computer programming space is generally a results driven environment rather than being politically driven – although we can never completely escape politics because we are human.

5. It can be quite lucrative as a career to pursue.

6. There will frequently be the opportunity to work in a team with other like-minded individuals.

7. You will have the freedom to work on your own for extended periods of time when necessary or desired.

8. You will have the mobility to move around various industries depending on your preference and also where you want to live.

We have only scratched the surface here because there are many more benefits to explore. Actually I will write a few more articles to cover some of these points in greater detail so please watch out for them!

Computer Programmer Jobs – Are You Interested in Writing Computer Programming?

Computer programs are responsible for designing the instructions that help computers perform their operations, which involves knowing a series of programming languages. When an engineer needs a program designed, they will give their ideas to a programmer who will take these instructions and encode them into a programming language that a computer can understand, such as java or C++.

These professionals will often repair and modify existing programs in order to improve them, and they may use computer assisted software engineering in order to automate some of the process. Programs used will vary widely depending on the type of information that must be transcribed, and simple projects can be done in a few hours, while others can take years to create.

A computer tester will test a program by making sure that it produces the desired results, and they will keep testing it until the performance of the program is adequate. Computer programmers may also work on developing games and other software that is used for financial planning or entertainment, working with a development team in order to create a finished project.

Computer programmers are typically grouped into one of two categories, which can include applications and systems programming. Applications writers are responsible for writing software programs which will perform a specific task such as word processing or a spreadsheet. Systems programming will create operating systems and networking systems upon which other software will run.

Most of these professionals will work 40 hours a week in a fairly low stress job, and telecommuting is becoming a common practice for programming professionals. Most jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, although those with sufficient skill may be able to bypass such requirements.

In 2017, these individuals had about 430,000 jobs in America, being employed by almost every industry, although in particular they are utilized by software publishers and financial institutions. Over the next decade, computer jobs should declined slowly as increased automation of coding and outsourcing greatly reduces the cost of software design.

In 2007, the Robert Half Technology Firm found that starting salaries for computer programmers in the middle 50th percentile ranged from $55,250 to $90,250.

Computer Programming – A Career Overview

Computer programming training is considered by most employment forecasters to be one of the best educational tracks with regards to career outlook in the future. An education in computer programming, whether through a traditional college degree program or a certification class, can open up many doors for job-seekers looking to secure employment in this rapidly changing field.

What is Computer Programming?

The science of programming – and it IS a science – involves developing and inputting the set of instructions that computers use to function, as well as resolving problems and conducting logical tests within the system. Every company utilizes some type of computer system these days, and although the role of the computer programmer is largely dependent on the type of company that he/she works for, the position is always a professional one due to the enormous amount of responsibility.

Over the years, computer programming has changed drastically as technology evolves, and computer programmers have been at the very forefront of that change. In essence, computer programmers are charged with instructing computers how to think by inputting a series of algorithms and other data, and making changes to those formulas when problems arise.

What Are the Requirements for Computer Programming?

Different types of programming require varying levels of time and expertise. Simple programs can usually be written within a matter of hours, while more complex programs can take years to complete. Either way, the computer programmer must be proficient in the language of programming and be able to resolve problems “on the fly” using logical thinking and sequencing.

According to one of the more popular career sites, most computer programming positions require at least a Bachelor of Science in a computer-related field, but there are some professional programmers who have learned and perfected their skills through work-related experience only, instead of a formal degree program. Regardless of entry-level educational requirements, however, most programmers find they need to consistently seek out new training and certification opportunities in order to stay abreast of the current technology.

If you’re a creative, logical person who enjoys working as part of a team to solve problems, computer programming can be a fantastic way to earn a great living.

Computer Programming Degree Qualifications

One cannot imagine a world without computers or without the aid of technology. Everything from the banking system to the medical world or governmental services relies on computers and the software that runs on these machines. Because many vital areas have to depend on computers to do their tasks, the need for powerful, no wonder that the demand for reliable software programs is on the rise. There are large differences between the software applications that students make during their training years and the programs needed to work for years without stopping, on different hardware configurations and with different people operating them. It is a very sensitive subject, as there are many areas that need very reliable programs.

Only highly trained and experienced software programmers are able to produce very large, complex, yet very secure software applications. No wonder that these programs cost a lot of money, as a highly experienced software programmer is very well paid. However, in order to become a good programmer, one must have a lot of work and training behind him and an associated degree can always help. No one is born a genius and in this ever-changing world of computer technologies, a good programmer must always be in touch with the latest discoveries and programming languages.

The better qualified you are, the higher your chances of getting a well paid job as a computer programmer and this is indeed the dream for every computer science student. That is why having a computer programming degree is very demanded, as it allows you to enjoy the multiple benefits of being a professional and experienced software programmer.

A computer programming degree is a very precious asset in every resume as it allows you to move forward in your software programmer career, ensuring you a better payment. Having a computer programming degree certifies that you are in touch with the latest trends as well as the latest technologies and documentations. Besides the basic skills of code writing, working with compilers and source codes you can get a degree in related topics, such as database programming languages or web based programming languages. If you are searching for a job, such a computer programming degree in your resume can weight a lot. Of course, aside from code writing and other similar jobs you may always be interested in getting a job as a DSP engineer especially since these jobs are getting paid better and better by the year.

Almost any large university offers its student the possibility to acquire a computer programming degree, as they all have computer science courses. Some universities famous for their degrees are Capella University and Kaplan University. Universities such as these offer a large array of computer programming degrees, two of the most important example being the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Programming degree and Introduction to Computer Programming Language Certificate. These two degrees in computer programming degree can make the difference of you obtaining a programmer’s job and a very well paid, specialized programmer’s job. Businesses require the skills of computer programmers to help develop new programs and the need for good programmers is very high.

Online Computer Programming Degrees – How to Find an Accredited School With a Solid Curriculum

An online computer programming degree can help prepare you for a career as an applications consultant, applications programmer, database programmer, java programmer, lead programmer, mainframe programmer, systems consultant or programmer, web developer or systems analyst.

Although job growth in this field is expected to decline for the 2008-2018 decade, employers are still in desperate need of programmers with strong technical skills, language skills, and proficiency in English. Employers need English-speaking programmers and workers who are knowledgeable about the way U.S. businesses operate in order to meet the company’s specific programming requirements.

To get started on your career, you should enroll in an accredited online computer programming or business degree program with a technology focus. If you prefer to complete only a portion your degree online and the other on-campus, choose the blended format (online and on-campus). Most traditional colleges and universities offer both options, as well as specialty colleges, business schools, and some technical schools.

Before enrolling in any degree program, whether traditional, blended, or online, you should check to make sure the program is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov). The top accrediting bodies for business schools, technical schools, and traditional colleges and universities include:

-Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
-Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
-Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
-Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
-The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
-Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-New England Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)
-North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)
-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Western Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)

In addition to verifying accreditation, spend some time reviewing curriculum and admissions requirements. If you are considering an online computer programming degree program, it is important to note that the traditional computer programming curriculum is still the standard in the academic world. Required major core courses for accredited computer programming degrees are as follows:

-Computer Science I
-Computer Science II
-Assembly Language Programming
-Data Structures and Algorithms
-Operating System
-Programming Languages
-Analysis of Algorithms
-Automata and Formal Languages
-Systems Architecture
-Computer Engineering
-Software Engineering
-Digital and Computer Analysis and Design
-Technical Writing

Algebra (abstract and linear), mathematical statistics, mathematical modeling, probability, differential equations, and discrete mathematics are also on the menu.

When reviewing admission requirements, check to make sure the school requests a completed admissions application, official test scores, official transcripts, recommendation letters, and an application essay. Most accredited computer programming degree programs require no less than a 3.00 GPA.

Should K-12 Schools Teach Computer Programming?

It was once popular in K-12 schools to teach computer programming. Languages like Logo, BASIC and HyperTalk used to be taught widely. With all the pressures that young people must deal with today, how can we justify the notion that programming studies be required in our schools? This article will explore this subject in brief.

One great mistake in the field of human endeavor with respect to computers is to overlook how they can be used to think differently about the world we live in. Because most people are instrumental thinkers, it can be more or less taken for granted that any new tool that is invented will be applied to the kinds of work and ideas that already exist. Certainly the computer certainly has spawned lots of new ideas, but its potential has been largely unrealized. In many classrooms computers are used as way to automate drill and repetition, and not as a medium to help the student learn how to learn better.

In the classroom for various reasons (which may relate to money, politics, ideology, and human nature) computer literacy has been ill-defined and paid lip service to. The ability to turn on a computer and operate various appliances like web browsers, instant messaging clients, word processors and the like without the slightest notion of how they actually work is a potentially harmful form of dependency.

Without being given at least a basic understanding of programming our children will not understand what a computer actually is and how it works, and they will not be truly computer literate. This can result in their subjugation to those who use the computer to run the public and private infrastructure. This is no different than other forms of exploitation within other realm of knowledge. As a simple example, a driver who understands how a car works benefits greatly whether driving on the road, broken down at the roadside, or at the counter at the repair shop.

Possessing a true computer literacy would not be of much value in an industrial age, but we are in an information age and so we are surrounded by computers. They are in our workplaces, our cars, our homes, our appliances and our pockets. We rely on these devices and we trust them to work and to give us good information.

As our children grow up they will need to make wise decisions about how computers are used in critical matters of life. As a real and current example, let’s consider computerized voting machines. There is controversy about whether the convenience of such systems is worth the cost of not being able to able to verify the integrity of their operation. An understanding of how computers really work is crucial to knowing how to think about such things. The people running our own legal and government institutions have not demonstrated a sufficient grasp of the issues, but the next generation could be better prepared if we decide it is important.

Is computer programming helpful for enhancing other kinds of thinking in addition to making people wise about the role that computers play in civil society? Let’s cover a few ways that programming is believed to be helpful to thinking and learning.

Organizational – Programming requires that things be organized. Values, functions, and presentation all must be put in their proper place.

Procedural – Writing instructions for a computer forces the programmer to think and understand procedure. This involves understanding and planning.

Abstract – Once the procedural skills are in place, a more advanced programmer will learn to think abstractly. This involves deciding what the program does (what it really means) and dividing the procedural parts up into general ideas.

Mathematical – Not the simple act of computation (3+4=7) or even algebraic thinking, but a real experience of how numbers can be important in the relationships between ideas.

Critical – To create a computer program it is important to weigh one idea against another, and the act of debugging a computer program requires one to think deductively.

It is important to realize that these ways of thinking can be taught without the use of computers. They can be taught in the course of reading and critical writing, debate, scientific discourse, history, politics, musical studies, and art (does this sound like your school?). Computer programming can enhance the benefits of these other activities.

In summary, given the very pervasive and growing impact of computers in our world we would be wrong not to provide our children with a profound understanding of computers and how their lives will be impacted. What’s more, the other ways in which programming improves thinking are useful and enriching in many wide-ranging ways.

Introduction to Computer Programming and Programming Languages

Since computer science was recognized as a distinct academic field in 1960s, it has made great strides especially in making things a lot easier for humans. One of the issues it has solved is the way problems that need to be addressed have been translated into a code or format computers can understand. There are various ingenious and great solutions used in such problems. Here’s an introduction to computer programming that will give you a greater understanding of this exciting discipline.

In order to pass on instructions to computers, programming languages are used. These languages, which are designed by humans, are based on the so-called rules of syntax and semantics. These days, a wide range of languages have been made, employed, discarded.

Programming languages usually don’t last that long. They come up but after just a few years of stay in the industry, you will feel that the language needs some improvement or you need something your chosen language can’t provide. It won’t be long until that particular language is replaced by a more flexible successor.

Programming languages do evolve because there’s a continuous search for efficient transformation of human language into machine code. Languages produced usually start with ideas, which conceal hardware and employ representations that are more convenient to human programmers. Another crucial facet of language design is dealing with the program’s complexity. As programs become bigger and more refined, developers have come to realize that there are language types that are easier to support in huge systems. Because of this, event-driven and object-oriented languages became widely used.

Types of Programming Languages: An Overview

Since this field is evolving, there is no set standard in categorizing programming languages. One way to characterize them is through programming paradigm. These classifications include:

o Object-Oriented

Object-oriented programming isn’t just the newest; it is also the most powerful among the paradigms. In programs that are object-oriented, the designer indicates the data structures as well as the categories of operations that can be done on it. The combination of data and operations that can be carried out is dubbed as an object.

o Procedural

Procedural programming involves a list of actions a program needs to accomplish to be able to attain certain goal. This is a simple paradigm wherein a program is divided into a starting phase, list of operations that needs to be done, and ending stage. Also called imperative programming, procedural programming involves the idea of procedure call.

o Structured

A unique type of procedural programming, structured programming offers additional tools that can be used to deal with the issues produced by larger programs. In structured programming, the program is split into small codes that can easily be understood. Oftentimes, structured programming is associated with top-down approach which starts with an overview of the system.

Computer programming languages are artificial and are made to manage computers. To come up with new and better language, the developer needs to spend hard work and long working hours. With this introduction to computer programming, you’ve become familiar with the various types of languages based on paradigms.

Computer Programming For Beginners – Integral Parts of Programming Languages

Are you new in the field of computer programming? Then it is very important to know and understand the common concepts and principles involved in such field. While computer programming for beginners comes with a certain level of difficulty, it is still achievable especially if you are equipped with the basic principles and concepts.

Writing a program involves storing data as well as manipulating it by means of a series of instructions. Included in the data are time and countable factors such as names, dates, and descriptions. By means of data types, you’ll be able to find out how a data must be stored and used.

Most programming languages such as C, C#, C , Visual Basic, and Java have integral parts which novice programmers need to get acquainted with. Among such parts are:

  • Variables

Wannabe programmers have to understand that variables provide them with momentary storeroom for any information needed while the program is used. Variables also play a great role in moving information from one section of the program to another. There’s also the so-called local variable which can be accessed or modified by a specified portion of a program and global variables which are accessible to any part of the program.

  • Data types

Any computer language comes with data types because they help maintain information contained in the program. However, programming languages have some restrictions on the data types they provide. Among the popular data types are characters, pointers, numbers, and strings. Numbers come in either floating points or integers. String data conceals internals that can be manipulated via exposed functions. Additionally, character data type stocks up numbers, symbols, letters, and spaces while the pointer means a piece of memory which can also be utilized for storing arrays.

  • Output

Since it is an important part of any programming language, it is advisable that you have a good understanding of the various types of outputs in majority of the computer programming languages. One of the popular types is text output, which provides a simple means of revealing the result of a particular computer program. Graphical output is a bit difficult and it needs higher resolution.

  • Testing conditions

These allow you to find out the path through a program by implementing a code with value as the basis. This value, which can be variable, another expression, or constant, is compared against an expression. One example of a testing condition statement is “if”. In case the validations became unsuccessful, many computer languages let you define a chunk of code that needs to be executed using “else” statement.

Aside from the indispensable elements of programming languages, computer programming for beginners also requires you to be familiar of the different language categories which include compiled languages, mark-up languages, and programming languages. It is also wise to have full understanding of the general principles and concepts behind each and every programming language. All of these factors are very much useful in helping you become an expert in a particular programming language or in computer programming in general.