What is Programming Language? Definition, Types, Generation, and Pros/Cons

What is a Programming Language?

The language which is used to create programs is called a programming language. It is a computer language with its own syntax and semantics which applies to writing programs.

This language comprises a set of instructions that are used to produce various kinds of output. The major types and generations of programming language are:

  • Machine level language or First-generation language (the mid – 1940’s)
  • Assembly level language or Second-generation language (1950’s to 1958’s)
  • High-level language or Third-generation language (1958’s to 1985’s)
  • Fourth-generation language (1985’s to till now)

Machine Level Language (the mid-1940s)

The first generation of language is machine-level language. Similarly, it is also a low-level language. This language is written using binary codes (1’s and 0’s) and is unique to each computer.

It is very difficult to understand by us or humans. Where it is a computer understandable language. Some advantages and disadvantages of this language are as follows:

Advantages:

  • Faster in execution. So, it has high efficiency.
  • The translator is not necessary to convert the language.
  • There is high-security maintenance due to the control of the hardware component.

Disadvantages:

  • This language is machine-dependent.
  • Also, it is difficult to program.
  • Similarly, it is time-consuming and expensive.

Assembly Level Language (1950’s to 1958’s)

It is a second-generation programming language or it is also a low-level language. The required language translator program in assembler.

Where assembler is used to convert assembly level language into machine level language i.e. source program into an object program. Frequently called symbolic language.

It is operated with the mnemonics and its parameter. Some advantages and disadvantages of this language are as follows:

Advantages:

  • This language is easy to program and understand.
  • Also, easy to modify errors and mistakes.
  • Similarly, it is easy to translate the language into machine language.

Disadvantages:

  • Machine dependent.
  • Time-consuming due to translating.
  • The translator is necessary to translate the program into machine code.

High-Level Language (3GL) – 1958’s to 1985’s

It is a third-generation programming language or procedural language. And, is also a structural-oriented language and functional language.

A used translator is a compiler or interpreter. Some advantages and disadvantages of this language are as follows:

Advantages:

  • It is machine-independent (portability).
  • Easy to learn and use (reliability).
  • Better communication.

Disadvantages:

  • It has less efficiency.
  • The translator is necessary to translate languages.
  • Conversion time is slower than assembly-level language.

Fourth-Generation Language (4GL) – 1985’s to now

Fourth-generation language (4GL) is more non-procedural, object-oriented, and conversational than prior language. It is also a non-structural programming language.

It can be employed directly by the end-user or less skilled programmer to develop computer applications more rapidly than the conventional programming language. Some advantages and disadvantages of fourth generation language are as follows:

Advantages:

  • Fourth-generation language (4GL) is friendly for users.
  • This language is easy to develop programs.

Disadvantages:

  • Programs run slower because it is heavy in size and design.
  • Required a long time to convert into machine code.

Difference between third-generation language (3GL) and fourth-generation language (4GL)


3GL4GL
It stands for third-generation language.It stands for fourth-generation language.
The stepwise instructions are written.Requirement-oriented instruction is written.
Difficult to learn.Easy to learn.
Difficult to debug.Easy to be debugging.
Typically file oriented.Typically, database-oriented.
Requires specification of how to perform the task.Requires specification of what task is to be performed.
For e.g. programming in C.Structured query language (SQL).

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