Introduction to Types of Computer Language
Computer language is a code or syntax for writing programs or specific applications. A computer language helps the user to tell the computer what to do and how to do it.
It comprises low-level, high-level, and specialized languages, further categorized as per their functions and use. To make the computer understand the code, we need a special program called a compiler or interpreter that translates the code into a language the computer can understand. These types of computer language range from low-level machine language to modern ones like Python, C++, Java, SQL, and more.
While choosing a programming language for a project, it’s important to consider the specific requirements and goals of the project. Each programming language has advantages and disadvantages, and some types of computer language may be better suited for certain tasks than others.
Different Types of Computer Languages
Below are the 3 types of computer languages with examples:
1. Low-Level Languages
A low-level programming language is close in relation to a computer’s instruction set and directly interacts with its hardware components to convert the orders into action.
a) Machine Language
Machine language is a code or object code composed of binary digits (0s and 1s), which a computer system can easily interpret. It is a native language that the central processing unit (CPU) directly understands and processes. However, it can be difficult to understand machine language due to binary commands, thereby leading to different opinions and results.
One must note that computers can only understand and process machine language. A computer’s operating system identifies the specific machine language in that particular system. It cannot understand programs and scripts in C, C++, and Java. Hence, a compiler is needed to convert these computer scripts into machine language. The output of the compiler is a file that the computer can execute and run.
Example of machine language for the text “Hello World” using Binary Code:
Each group of eight ones and zeros is called a “byte.” In this case, each byte represents a specific letter or character in the text.
Here’s a breakdown of what each byte represents in the machine language example for the text “Hello World”:
- 01001000 -> ‘H’
- 0110101 -> ‘e’
- 01101100 -> ‘l’
- 01101100 -> ‘l’
- 01101111 -> ‘o’
- 00100000 -> ‘ ‘ (space)
- 01010111 -> ‘W’
- 01101111 -> ‘o’
- 01110010 -> ‘r’
- 01101100 -> ‘l’
- 01100100 -> ‘d’
So, when a computer reads this sequence of bytes in machine language, it understands that it should display the text “Hello World” on the screen.
b) Assembly Language
Assembly language is simply a low-level programming language to write instructions for microprocessors and various programmable devices. It is often referred to as a second-generation language of computer, while machine language is the first-generation language. Assembly language is common for writing scripts for operating systems and desktop applications. It’s a low-level language of computer because it’s closer to the way computers actually work.
Assembly language is easy to understand in comparison to machine language. The compiler takes less time to translate the code, while the efficiency of the code’s execution is greater. However, a potential disadvantage is that the code cannot be reused for all projects and is difficult to understand for beginners. The code you write in assembly language is specific to a particular program or device, so it can’t be easily reused in other projects.
2. High-Level Languages
The earlier types of computer language had portability issues, making it difficult to transfer code from one machine to another. To address this, high-level languages were introduced. Programmers started developing high-level languages to respond to the challenges of lower-level language programs. These types of computer languages are designed to be user-friendly, allowing programmers to write code quickly and easily.
Know More: High-Level Languages VS Low-Level Language
Types of High-Level Languages
a) Procedural Language
A procedural language is a third-generation language easily created with simple procedures. These procedures are instructions in a sequence with a unique name. Hence, the execution of these instructions happens with a name or title assigned to that instruction.
Here are some examples of popular procedural languages:
- C Language: C is widely useful for developers for developing system software, like operating systems and device drivers. It is known for its efficiency in managing hardware resources.
- Fortran: Fortran is commonly useful as a programming language for scientific computing and numerical analysis. It has found extensive applications in fields such as physics, engineering, and astronomy, and it remains relevant today.
- Pascal: Pascal is a procedural type of computer language designed to be easy to learn and use. It is utilized for creating applications in various domains, including education, engineering, and business.
- BASIC: BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was designed with the goal of creating a procedural language that is beginner-friendly. It is commonly useful for developing basic applications and educational programs.
- COBOL: COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) is a procedural language initially developed for business applications. It is still helpful today for developing banking, insurance, and government applications.
b) Functional Language
Functional language is a type of high-level language that revolves around mathematical functions as their fundamental concept. Functional languages give functions equal status by assigning them to variables, using them as arguments in other functions, and returning them as values from functions. This means that functions can be useful in flexible and powerful ways, making it easier to solve problems and create programs.
Functional languages are particularly concise, clear, and easily understandable. They are common for the development of applications that involve extensive data manipulation, such as artificial intelligence and data analysis. Additionally, functional languages are best for web development and game development.
Here are some examples of popular functional languages:
- Haskell: Haskell is a purely functional language famous for its strong safety features and its ability to handle complex mathematical operations. It finds applications in various fields, including artificial intelligence, data analysis, and finance.
- Lisp: Lisp is one of the oldest functional languages still in use today. It is famous for its flexibility and its capability to handle complex data structures. Lisp is employed in the development of applications across domains such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and game development.
- Erlang: Erlang is a functional language specifically for building concurrent and distributed systems. It is extensively useful in the telecommunications industry for creating messaging systems and other real-time applications.
- F#: F# is a functional language based on the .NET framework. It is notable in the development of applications for various domains, including web development, game development, and artificial intelligence.
- Clojure: Clojure, a functional programming language with roots in Lisp, offers exceptional expressiveness and finds application in diverse fields such as web development, data analysis, and machine learning.
c) Object-Oriented Programming Language
Object-oriented programming languages have become the predominant approach in developing new software. The development process in these languages revolves around creating and interacting with objects, which consist of pieces of code (modules) and data structures.
Here are some examples of popular object-oriented languages:
- Java: Java is a widely useful object-oriented language for developing various applications, including web applications, mobile applications, and games. It aims to provide platform independence, allowing programs to run on different systems. Java handles memory management automatically and is recognized for its security features and the ability to run on multiple platforms.
- Python: Python is a widespread object-oriented language for data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. It is popular for its user-friendly interface and capacity to process large amounts of data efficiently.
- C++: C++ is an object-oriented language suitable for developing applications that require high performance and low-level control, such as operating systems and game engines. It is famous for its speed and efficiency.
- Ruby: Ruby is an object-oriented language commonly helpful for web development and scripting. It is creative for its simplicity and straightforward design.
- Swift: Swift is an object-oriented language primarily for developing applications for Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads. It prioritizes safety and is well-equipped to handle complex applications.
d) Scripting Language
Scripting languages are high-level languages to be user-friendly and easy to learn for automating repetitive tasks and creating dynamic web pages. Developers prefer interpreted scripting languages because they do not require compilation before execution, enabling quick prototyping and testing.
Here are some of the common scripting languages:
- Python: Python is a scripting language for various applications, such as web development, data analysis, and artificial intelligence. It is perfect due to its user-friendly nature and capacity to handle large datasets. Python has wide usage in scientific computing and machine learning domains.
- Perl: Perl is frequently in use as a scripting language for text processing, web development, and system administration. It has powerful regular expressions and the ability to handle complex data structures.
- Bash: Bash is a scripting language that is for shell scripting in Linux and Unix-based operating systems. It serves as the default command-line shell and is a powerful command-line interface, thereby enabling users to perform various tasks through simple commands.
3. Specialized Languages
Specialized languages are programming languages that are for specific uses or industries. They have special features and rules that make them really good at solving certain kinds of problems. For example, there are languages for designing web pages, languages for working with databases, and even languages for doing scientific calculations. These specialized languages help programmers work more easily and effectively on tasks that require specific knowledge or skills.
a) Markup Language
Markup languages are computer languages to format text for display on the web or in documents. They employ tags and other markers to describe how text should be formatted or displayed. The objective of markup languages is to ensure both machine and human readability.
Here are some common examples of Markup languages:
- HTML: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a primary markup language for designing web pages. It utilizes tags to structure and present information on a webpage, including headings, paragraphs, links, images, and other essential elements. HTML is widely and universally functioning with the support of web browsers.
- XML: XML (Extensible Markup Language) stores and exchanges data between different systems. It utilizes tags to define data structure and content, enabling the representation of complex data structures. Enterprise applications, data sharing, and web services commonly use XML format.
- Markdown: Markdown is just a lightweight markup language that allows for easy text formatting for the web. It uses plain text and simple tags to define headings, lists, links, and other elements. It is widely for writing documentation, blog posts, and web content due to its simplicity and readability.
b) Query Language
Query languages are simply computer languages that retrieve and manipulate data from databases. These types of computer language allow users to issue commands or statements in order to edit or retrieve data based on specific criteria. Query languages find applications in various fields, including business intelligence, data analytics, and web development.
- SQL: Structured Query Language (SQL) is commonly for managing relational databases. It provides functionality to create, modify, and delete databases, tables, and other objects, alongside query data stored in these databases. SQL has usage in enterprise applications, web development, and data analytics.
- SPARQL: SPARQL (SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language) is a language for querying data stored in RDF (Resource Description Framework) format. RDF is a flexible data model that represents metadata, and SPARQL allows the manipulation and retrieval of data in RDF format. SPARQL is quite useful in applications dealing with large amounts of data, like data analytics and scientific research.
c) Domain-Specific Language
Developers design Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs) for specific domains or problems to simplify programming tasks by providing a language tailored to the needs of a particular application. Multiple applications utilize domain-specific languages (DSLs), including scientific computing, financial modeling, and game development.
- MATLAB: MATLAB is a domain-specific language for scientific computing and data analysis. It provides a robust environment for numerical computation, visualization, and programming. Scientists in various fields, including engineering and physics, commonly use MATLAB.
- R Language: The R Language is primarily a domain-specific language in the field of statistical computing and graphics. It is a widespread tool for data analysis and scientific research. R Language is open-source and has a large and active community of users and developers.
Differences Between the Low-Level and High-Level Language
There are some distinguishing features of low-level and high-level types of computer language as follows:
|Closely tied to the computer’s instruction set and directly interacts with hardware components.
|User-friendly and focuses on the problem-solving aspect of programming.
|Machine language and Assembly language.
|Operates at a low level of abstraction, with direct hardware access and machine-level instructions.
|More abstract, with straightforward and intuitive instructions for programmers.
|Difficult to read and write due to machine-level instructions.
|Easily readable and writable by humans.
|Specific to a particular computer architecture, not portable without rewriting.
|Portable and can run on any computer with appropriate software.
|Difficult to debug and maintain due to closeness to hardware and requirement of deep understanding of architecture.
|Easier to debug and maintain due to a higher level of abstraction and readability.
|Faster due to direct access to hardware.
|Slower because translation into machine-level code is necessary.
In the future, the various types of computer languages will continue to serve important roles. Low-level languages will control hardware, while high-level languages will be popular because they are easier to use. Object-oriented programming languages, scripting languages, and specialized languages will also be valuable tools for software development. Markup languages and query languages will help structure information on the web and manage data effectively. As technology advances, these languages will evolve to meet the needs of different fields and provide efficient solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is a programming language?
Answer: A programming language is like a set of instructions that humans can use to tell computers what to do. It’s like a special type of computer language that both people and computers can understand. Developers use these types of computer language to create software by writing code that tells the computer how to solve problems and perform tasks.
Q2. Is HTML a programming language?
Answer: No, HTML is not a programming language. It comes under markup language. It’s more like a set of instructions to the web browser on how to display content on a webpage. It’s like giving your browser a blueprint of what to show and where to show it, but it doesn’t have the ability to perform calculations or make decisions as a programming language does.
Q3. Give an example of low-level language in C.
Answer: A low-level language is like speaking directly to a computer in its own language at a very basic level. C programming uses binary code consisting of 0’s and 1’s. This binary code represents the instructions that the computer understands and executes. So, when we write programs in C, we can use the binary code “01101110 01101111” for the word “NO”.
Q4. Mention examples of high-level languages.
Answer: Some examples of high-level languages are C, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP, etc. These high-level types of computer language are user-friendly programming languages that make it easier for people to write code. They are simpler and more abstract, so you don’t have to worry about low-level details.
Q5. Do programming languages constantly evolve?
Answer: Yes, programming languages do constantly evolve. Just like technology and software, programming languages are regularly up-to-date to introduce new features, improve performance, and address shortcomings. These updates help programmers write code more efficiently, solve complex problems, and stay up to date with the latest trends in software development.
This EDUCBA explains what is computer language and its types. Here, in this article, we have explained the hierarchy of types of computer languages with examples in detail and also a basic difference between low and high-level programming languages. You can view EDUCBA’s recommended articles for more information.