Language in which a computer programmer writes instructions for a computer to execute. Some languages, such as COBOL, FORTRAN, Pascal, and C, are known as procedural languages because they use a sequence of commands to specify how the machine is to solve a problem. Others, such as LISP, are functional, in that programming is done by invoking procedures (sections of code executed within a program). Languages that support object-oriented programming take the data to be manipulated as their point of departure. Programming languages can also be classified as high-level or low-level. Low-level languages address the computer in a way that it can understand directly, but they are very far from human language. High-level languages deal in concepts that humans devise and can understand, but they must be translated by means of a compiler into language the computer understands.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on programming language, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up programming language? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.