C / C++ Section

C++ is a third generation programming language. During the early days of the computer, the computers were programmed with very simple, low-level commands. A program was designed by a programmer. The next step for the programmer was to translate the program into a specific set of codes, known as machine language. These codes would be fed into a computer with switches, punch-cards, or primitive keypads. These programs were cumbersome to write, and very hard to debug. This was a major drawback, because almost any program has some bugs (errors) and when possible these bugs should be solved and eliminated. Debugging is the process of going step by step through a program to find out what actually happens on each line so that the error that occurs can be solved. Many persons consider machine code to be the first generation of programming languages.

At a later stage assemblers were developed. An assembler is a piece of software that creates machine code from a program written in the assembly language belonging to that particular assembler. Assembly languages allow a programmer to design a program and translate it into machine language using an assembler. Most assembly languages are still very cumbersome to work with. Another major disadvantage of assembly languages is that they are processor-specific. So programs written in assembly language will only work on processors similar to the one of the machine that they were written on. Many people consider assembly languages to be the second generation of programming languages.

Third generation languages are compiled languages. These languages are not processor-specific. In theory, a program written in a third generation language will be able to run on any other machine. This is not always the case, due to a number of factors. Third generation languages are much more abstract than assembly languages. Third generation languages are translated into assembly language by a complicated piece of software called a compiler A compiler can be thought of a a language translater. Java is an example of a third generation language that is not processor-specific. Because of that Java programs can run on more platforms.

C++ is a very useful language, because it gives the programmer a lot of control, but also is abstract enough so development can be done fairly quickly. The power of C++ is also dangerous. A C programmers is able to make pointers. A pointer points to a certain adress within the memory of the computer. Because of pointer a C program can directly write data to the computer memory and also remove data from the memory. If this is done in a wrong way, this may cause the computer to crash or other damage.

Because C++ is a third generation language and because it has a well defined set of standards written for it, it is a very portable language. C++ is widely used for program development under a variety of operating systems. Good C++ programmers are in high demand today.


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