What is Programming? [A Complete Beginner's Guide]

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What is Programming? [A Complete Beginner's Guide]

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on December 11, 2022

    Programming is the sophisticated practice of creating software by means of one or many programming languages and other technologies and tools. It is an intricate, demanding process that involves a number of sub-processes to reach its end goal, which is to create a high-performant and useful piece of software.

    Today, learning programming is not a difficult task. Thanks to the advent of programming languages like Python, anyone can get started with programming easily. Despite being central to computer science, it isn’t just confined to information technology and its sister branches.

    It is a multifaceted discipline that has spawned out to numerous industries, ranging from manufacturing and logistics to space research and aviation.

    In this post, we shall discuss what programming means and its related terms.

    What is Programming?

    It is the practice of structuring or arranging a set of instructions that instruct or direct a computer system to carry out certain tasks. Now let us break the definition into two parts and understand it in-depth.

    • Instruct a computer system: It implies providing a series of instructions to the computer system in a language that they understand. Now, the instructions can be anything, such as multiplying two numbers, finding an average of n numbers, etc. But how to instruct the computer? This is where programming languages come into play. Like we understand various languages (English, Chinese, Spanish, French, and many more), computer systems understand programming languages, such as C, C++, Java, Python, etc.
    • Carry out various tasks: Tasks can be simple as well as complex, the aforementioned were simple tasks. Complex tasks involve solving real-world problems, which require programmers to write multiple sets of instructions.

    So, we can say programming is an approach to telling computers what to do and how to do it.

    What is a Programming Language?

    The above definition of programming entails the term programming language. What is it exactly? A programming language is a computer language that programmers use to create a set of instructions to direct computer systems about a specific task. To put it simply, the programming language is a type of language understood by computer systems. Some popular programming languages include C, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP, and JavaScript.

    To explore more about a programming language, you can check out our blog: What is a Programming language?

    Why Do We Need Programming?

    Programming makes a lot of daily activities easy and fast. Also, it automates boring, time-consuming, and tedious tasks. Today, computer programs are available for almost every daily activity we perform, from communicating with friends and families to booking an online flight or railway tickets. In short, programming plays a vital role in making human lives making better than ever before.

    Here are some examples that demonstrate the usefulness of computer programs in human lives:

    • Sending an email to a person living abroad or miles away from you within seconds.
    • Booking railways tickets, flight tickets, restaurants, cabs, and hotels within minutes by sitting at home.
    • Transferring money to people who live at a distance.
    • Getting to a particular location through maps.

    Why Should You Learn Programming?

    Now that you know what programming is and what its need is in today's life. Now, you might be wondering why should you learn programming. Here are some of the major reasons:

    • Programming is the Backbone of Technology: There is no denying that programming is the cornerstone and backbone of technology. All the software programs organizations and people use today are because of programming. Organizations hire skilled programmers to develop solutions to various business problems in the form of software applications.
    • Programming is Fun: It is definitely fun because when you learn to program, you can create various software programs to fulfill your requirements. Also, you can create your own games, blog websites, eCommerce websites like Amazon or Flipkart, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and many other applications. Isn't it fun? You can develop your software and upload it Play Store for other people to download.
    • High Salaries: Computer programmers are among the highest paid professionals in the IT industry. This is because they possess high-level skills and knowledge to create software solutions that solve real-world problems.
    • Programmers are Highly Sought-After: If you learn to program and develop various applications, you will find a lot of career opportunities because every industry verticle these days leverages software applications for one or the other reasons.

    Programming Paradigms

    A programming paradigm is an underlying model that imparts a programming language its characteristics. Consider it as a blueprint for building a programming language. Different programming languages follow different programming paradigms.

    In simple terms, we can define a programming paradigm as an approach to solving a particular problem using a suitable programming language and the available tools and techniques.

    While some programming languages follow some particular programming paradigm, others benefit from a combination of various programming paradigms. There are two broad categories of programming paradigms, namely Imperative and Declarative.

    1. Imperative Programming Paradigm

    This programming paradigm has a close relation to machine architecture and is based on Von Neumann architecture. It works by leveraging the assignment statements to change a program's state. A computer program written in a programming language that follows the imperative paradigm consists of numerous instructions for computer systems to carry out. Moroever, the primary focus of this paradigm is how to accomplish the task.

    Some popular programming languages that follow the imperative programming paradigm are C, Fortran, C++, Python, Java, Basic, and Ruby.

    Imperative programming is further categorized into three different paradigms, as follows:

    • Procedural: It is based on procedure calls, which are a series of instructions or computational steps. You can call any procedure at any point while the program is executing. This means that you can reuse any set of computational steps in any part of the program. Basic, C, and Pascal are popular procedural programming languages.
    • Object-Oriented: It centers around objects that combine data and functions working on that data together. These objects ensure that only the necessary details are exposed to end users, and all other implementation details are hidden. This paradigm primarily focuses on data rather than procedure. Java, C++, Python, and PHP are object-oriented languages.
    • Parallel Processing: Parallel processing breaks a large task into smaller chunks and distributes them across multiple processors to execute. Its primary objective is to execute large computer programs within less time by splitting them across multiple processors. System C, SequenceL, and Parallel Haskel are popular parallel processing languages.

    2. Declarative Programming Paradigm

    This programming paradigm focuses on creating the structure and elements of computer programs. Rather than describing the control flow of computation, it describes its logic. It emphasizes what a computer program should accomplish and not how. This means that declaring programming concentrates on what has to be done and not on how it has to be done.

    Scala, Haskell, Lisp, SQL, Closure, and Erlang are popular programming languages that follow the declarative programming paradigm.

    Three different types of declarative programming paradigms are as follows:

    • Functional: It is a language-independent paradigm that binds everything in pure mathematical style functions. Instead of statements, it leverages expressions that, when evaluated, produce a result. Haskel, Erlang, F#, Clean, Python, JavaScript, Closure, and LISP are programming languages that support functional programming.
    • Logical: Formal logic forms the basis for logical programming. When you write a program in logical programming, it entails a set of instructions in a logical form that describes facts and rules associated with the problem. PROLOG and SQL are logical programming languages.
    • Database-Driven: This paradigm does not require you to write a series of steps; instead, it leverages program statements defined by data. SQL, RDQL, SPARQL, and QML are database-driven languages.

    Programming vs Coding

    Usually, programming and coding are interchangeable terms. This, however, is not factually correct. While coding is the specific practice of writing code, programming has a much wider definition. It isn’t limited just to writing code. Programming is an umbrella term for everything ranging from brainstorming ideas for implementing and writing code to testing and maintenance of a computer program. As such, coding is a subset of programming.

    If you wish to explore more differences between programming and coding, you can refer to our blog: Coding vs Programming .


    Programming is one of the most lucrative career options in the modern world. It, however, demands dedication, passion, perseverance, and much more. A programmer needs to stay abreast of all, or most, of the latest happenings and developments of the programming world, learn continually, and practice a lot. It’s true that no one can become a super programmer in a single day or, in fact, in a year or so.

    To develop an architect-level mastery over programming, years and years of unbending will is required. If you have what it takes to be a programmer, better get started today!

    People are also reading:


    A computer programmer is a professional who develops computer programs to fulfill various tasks.

    A programming language is a type of computer language used to communicate with computer systems. Computer programmers write instructions in programming languages so that computers can understand them and perform the tasks.

    The two broad categories of programming are imperative and declarative.

    The three types of imperative programming are Procedural, Object-Oriented, and Parallel Processing.

    The three types of declarative programming are Function, Logical, and Database-driven.

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