What is Programming
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What is Programming

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This Article is pretty different from my other articles. This time we will look at the grander picture by answering what programming is. I will try to provide three kinds of answers; What the Census (Internet People) says, What my school education says and what I say. You may have another opinion.

Census

There are somewhat two answers that you will find when going to the internet one says programming is instructing the computer to do various tasks and the others try to answer what a programming language is. Let us get to the first one.

When we code, we tell the computer to do something. When we want to get the sum of 3 and 6, we say to the computer print(3 + 6). These tasks can also be way more complex than that. For Example, we could edit images or make requests to get data from APIs. But how do we tell the computer what to do?

When we program, we use dedicated languages that the computer can understand or translate into
its binary language. Some of the most prominent languages are python, javascript, and PHP. These languages have their use cases, but each works essentially the same. You can calculate with numbers, do operations on strings, and control the flow with ifs and loops.

Now, what does my education say?

Education

In school, we have learned that you can imagine programs like a flow chart of Commands and Decisions. This has to do with the instructions I mentioned earlier. A flow chart for a program might look something like this.

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As you see, the program starts at the top, creating a new variable called x. After that, it will check if the variable holds the value 5. If that is not the case, we print it out with a command (function), add one to it, and then check again. But if x turns out to be 5, we print out Finished. After that, the program is done.

But to make computer programs, you need to have Computation Thinking, which means that you can or understand five things.

  • Decomposition: Split up the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. (functions)
  • Generalisation: The program should be able to solve problems like this, not only this one.
  • Pattern Recognition: You need to see the similarities between problems and work them out. (Loops)
  • Abstraction: You need to be able to take out the detail and ignore irrelevant information.
  • Algorithm: You need to be able to define simple rules or processes by which the program acts.

The last one, algorithm, is pretty important. Even people that don’t program encounter an algorithm. You can get out of any labyrinth by sticking to the left side, but this does not work if the maze has islands. If you press the reset button on the frame below, you will see that the white rectangle will navigate out of the labyrinth by sticking to the left wall and by using the pledge algorithm

My Opinion

In my opinion, programming is when you do four things with any data.

  • Getting
  • Setting
  • Changing
  • Displaying

I think almost all if not all, programs do these four things. It has not to be in that order, but all of them are needed. For Example, when I open paint, the program opens an image, gets the data from it, and displays it. If we draw onto the picture, the program gets data changes in the to save and will show our changes.

Now, what do you think?

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