Computer programming (often shortened to programming or coding) is the process of designing, writing, testing, debugging, and maintaining the source code of computer programs. This source code is written in one or more programming languages (such as Java, C++, C#, Python, etc.). The purpose of programming is to create a set of instructions that computers use to perform specific operations or to exhibit desired behaviors. The process of writing source code often requires expertise in many different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain, specialized algorithms and formal logic.
Within software engineering, programming (the implementation) is regarded as one phase in a software development process.
There is an ongoing debate on the extent to which the writing of programs is an art form, a craft, or an engineering discipline. In general, good programming is considered to be the measured application of all three, with the goal of producing an efficient and evolvable software solution (the criteria for "efficient" and "evolvable" vary considerably). The discipline differs from many other technical professions in that programmers, in general, do not need to be licensed or pass any standardized (or governmentally regulated) certification tests in order to call themselves "programmers" or even "software engineers." Because the discipline covers many areas, which may or may not include critical applications, it is debatable whether licensing is required for the profession as a whole. In most cases, the discipline is self-governed by the entities which require the programming, and sometimes very strict environments are defined (e.g. United States Air Force use of AdaCore and security clearance). However, representing oneself as a "Professional Software Engineer" without a license from an accredited institution is illegal in many parts of the world.
Another ongoing debate is the extent to which the programming language used in writing computer programs affects the form that the final program takes. This debate is analogous to that surrounding the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis in linguistics and cognitive science, which postulates that a particular spoken language's nature influences the habitual thought of its speakers. Different language patterns yield different patterns of thought. This idea challenges the possibility of representing the world perfectly with language, because it acknowledges that the mechanisms of any language condition the thoughts of its speaker community.
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Famous quotes containing the words programming and/or computer:
“If there is a price to pay for the privilege of spending the early years of child rearing in the drivers seat, it is our reluctance, our inability, to tolerate being demoted to the backseat. Spurred by our success in programming our children during the preschool years, we may find it difficult to forgo in later states the level of control that once afforded us so much satisfaction.”
—Melinda M. Marshall (20th century)
“The analogy between the mind and a computer fails for many reasons. The brain is constructed by principles that assure diversity and degeneracy. Unlike a computer, it has no replicative memory. It is historical and value driven. It forms categories by internal criteria and by constraints acting at many scales, not by means of a syntactically constructed program. The world with which the brain interacts is not unequivocally made up of classical categories.”
—Gerald M. Edelman (b. 1928)