Computer Programming Terminologies

Have you ever been reading a programming article, and come across a term that you didn’t understand? This blog post is meant to help clear up some of the more common terms used in programming. By definition, jargon is language that is specific to a particular profession or group and is difficult for outsiders to understand. With that said, let’s jump into some of the most commonly used programming terms!

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know all of these already – we’ll go over each one in detail. And if there are any other terms that you’d like defined, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Common Programming Terms

  • Algorithm: An algorithm is a defined process or set of rules to solve problems, accomplish tasks or reach goals, often by using computer programming.
  • Argument: An argument is an expression that can be used in both mathematical or logical calculations, but which does not have a value on its own. Arguments are also called “parameters” and usually consist of data passed to functions or methods when they are executed.
  • Array: An array is a set of values that have been indexed by some integer n for use as a continuous set of variables. They can be used to store similar data for easier use, but also as mathematical matrices. Arrays are very helpful in programming because they allow you to put many items into one variable and then access them all at once if need be, rather than having to type out all the individual variables.
  • Arithmetic Operators: Arithmetic operators are used to perform mathematical calculations. Mathematical operators are symbols that represent different types of calculations to be performed.
  • Assignment Operator: It is used to assign values to variables. Some of them are +=, -=, *=, /=, %=.
  • Augmented reality: Augmented reality is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. Virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmented reality enhances your current perception of reality whereas virtual reality changes your current perceptions about the world
  • Autonomous: Autonomous means that something has the ability to function independently without control from external sources. It also refers to when someone is able to make their own decisions without being influenced by others.
  • Binary: Binary numbers are composed of only 0s and 1s in base 2 instead of our normal base 10 number system which uses 0 through 9
  • Bit: It is short for Binary Digit. A bit is the smallest unit of data in computing that has only two possible values. One can be interpreted as “on” or “true”. The other can be interpreted as “off” or “false”.
  • C++: C++ is a multi-paradigm programming language created by Bjarne Stroustrup and licensed under the MIT License. It is used to create system software, application software, games, and graphics software.
  • Camel case: It is a best practice to name variables in programming. They should be called according to the camel case scheme, which means that the first word is lowercase and subsequent words are capitalized. For example: isConnecting, processingDataItems.
  • Coding: Coding is the process of writing instructions in a programming language for computers to follow. It can be easily confused with “coding languages” which are just languages that can be used to code on.
  • Coding languages: Programming languages are formal constructed languages designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Examples include C++, MATLAB, Python, HTML etc… They are also called coding languages because they can be used in coding.
  • Computer program: A set of instructions that tell the computer what tasks you want them to perform so that you don’t have to do it yourself manually anymore. A computer program tells your computer what tasks to perform, or what sequence of actions to undertake, in order to accomplish a desired result.
  • Conditional statements: Conditional statements are used in coding and programming to check whether something is true or false. If the statement is true then it displays one message, if not then another message will be displayed.
  • Comment: Comments are notes written in code that provides information about the actions taken by the program for future reference. This does not affect how your code runs (for example – whether it works) but may be useful for other programmers to see what you were thinking or why you did something.
  • Control Flow: Control flow refers to conditional logic in a programming language. Factors involved in deciding if control-flow statements are evaluated is only limited by coding conventions, making this type of work where all kinds of algorithms can be realized effectively.
  • Data Structure: A data structure is an organized representation of related information stored in the computer memory which appears in the form of data. A set of data that forms a structural and functional unit, often in the context of a larger system.
  • Debug: To debug something is to find and remove any errors (bugs) from it. This can be done manually or through automated tools such as debuggers which make it possible for developers to track down issues during programmed tasks.
  • Data types: The type of data being received or sent between steps of program processes are called “data types”. Some example data types are string, integer, float, Boolean values, etc…
  • Else statements: The else statement allows for alternative code to run when a conditional statement evaluates as false. In most languages, an else statement can only be paired with an if the statement of the same “logical level”.
  • For loops: A loop executes some code repeatedly until some condition is met. They do this by using a counter of variable that counts from something small like 0 up until whatever you tell it to stop at and then goes back to 0 or whatever you tell it to start at.
  • Functions: A function allows us to use the same code over and over again without having to rewrite all of it for each time we want that piece of code executed. Functions allow you, as a programmer, to write one piece of code once then put it into your program whenever you need that particular section or action performed by your program. While functions don’t require an end statement (like loops do), they can be written with them if desired.
  • If statements: An if statement allows a choice to be made within a program. If the statement is true, then it will carry out the code in the curly brackets/braces below.
  • Integrated Development Environment: An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is an application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. IDEs are designed to increase productivity by providing tight-knit components with similar user interfaces. IDEs present a single interface and typically include tools from many different disciplines within software development.
  • IntelliJ: IntelliJ is a Java integrated development environment (IDE). It provides support for several languages such as Java, Scala, Groovy and Kotlin.
  • Java: The most popular general-purpose programming language around Jupyter Notebook: An open-source web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations, and explanatory text.
  • Linux: Linux is an operating system for computer systems. Linux is popular among developers because it is open source. This means that the code that makes up Linux is available to anyone who wants to see it or use it. Developers like to have access to the code that makes up the software so they can understand how it works and fix any problems that may arise. Additionally, Linux runs on a wide variety of computer systems, making it a good choice for developers who want to target a large number of users.
  • Loops: Loops allow a programmer to write code once and have the program run it several times without having to rewrite each time. Loops are always “completed” by a conditional statement such as an if/else statement in most languages. A loop will only end when one of these statements returns true or when they hit a break statement somewhere in their structure which skips them out of the current loop.
  • Main function: The main function is the starting point for any program. When a computer runs a user’s code, it starts at the very top of the file in which the code is housed and works its way down until it hits a return statement or hits bottom using some other stopping criteria such as hitting a break statement.
  • Machine Learning: Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence where computers teach themselves to recognize patterns and make predictions based on data. This branch of artificial intelligence was created and inspired by cognitive science and mathematical optimization. It uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” with data without being explicitly programmed where to look for this information. The results are pattern matching systems that can do things like identify fraud, find locations, recommend products, and much more.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions.  
  • Micro:bit: The Micro:bit is a programmable miniature computer developed by the BBC with input from educators, professional technologists, and industrialists in order to encourage innovation amongst children and teenagers. It was designed to be used both inside and outside the classroom for learning about digital technologies and experimenting with new ideas. This tiny circuit board can be attached to toys such as bicycles or even worn on clothing like a pendant allowing children to write programs that can interact with their environment.
  • Neural networks: Neural networks are computer systems modeled after the human brain. They are capable of processing data that is fed into them and then “learning” to make better predictions with this information each time it’s fed in. The programs used to create neural networks are often visualized as a network of nodes, or neurons, which send messages between one another based on certain triggers they receive. Neural networks are incredibly complicated but they have the capacity to mimic the way the human brain works making them ideal for some applications like computer vision.
  • Python: Python is a high-level programming language that can be used to build just about anything programmers want it to build. It has widespread use across many different disciplines including finance, academic research, mathematics, and web development among others. One of its most popular uses, however, is as a first computer language to teach kids who want to learn how to code. This ease of use and versatility makes it a good choice for beginners trying to figure out if coding is something they can enjoy doing.
  • Scratch: Scratch is a free programming language released by MIT in 2007. It was designed with young people in mind, taking many design cues from Logo which was one of the first educational languages ever created. It allows users to create interactive stories, games, music videos, and even animated art all using blocks that snap together like Lego bricks clearly showing the relationships between different commands. This visual aspect makes it an excellent choice for teaching young children how coding works since they don’t have to text-based code at all to start creating projects.
  • Scripts: Scripts are pieces of code that will run all at once instead of line by line like most programming languages require. This is helpful when you want to move through an application quickly or perform the same task over and over again without having to write out each step. Scratch, Java, Python, and C++ are some common languages which use scripts though their implementations will be very different from one another.
  • Sprites: Sprites are pictures or objects used in computer graphics programs like games or animation tools. These sprites can represent anything from a simple circle to a complicated 3D model designed to look exactly like a real object. Once sprites have been created they can interact with the world around them much like how a sprite in a video game will move around following the commands of the programmer.
  • Statement: A statement is an instruction given to a computer program. These instructions are made up of keywords, variables, function names and other symbols which must be written in a specific order for the computer to understand what they mean. Programs typically have several statements in them and each one performs its own unique task all adding up to create some kind of desired outcome whether it’s displaying an image on a screen or controlling how fast a car moves down the street.
  • TensorFlow: TensorFlow is Google’s open-source machine learning framework that has been gaining popularity among beginners. What makes it so popular when compared with other frameworks is that it allows developers to visualize what’s going on “under the hood” as models are being created and refined. These visualizations make it easier to troubleshoot problems and make programming decisions that wouldn’t have been possible before TensorFlow’s release to the public.
  • Training: This is a term used in machine learning to describe when a program gets better at making predictions by learning from information given to it over time. In order for training to work, machine learning programs will typically require an extremely large dataset of previous examples so that they have enough data points from which to learn each time they’re fed new information. The more accurate these machine-learning-based systems become at performing tasks, the more efficient they’ll be able to handle real-world challenges like self-driving cars and weather forecasting.
  • Variable: A variable is a name given to store information in a computer program that can change as the program runs. This allows for one piece of code to perform several different tasks without needing to be rewritten over and over again. Variables are especially useful when trying to modify code since they allow programmers to focus on making changes to just one line instead of hunting through the entire program for what needs to be modified.
  • Variable types: Variables can store different amounts of information depending on what type they are assigned.
  • While loops: A while loop is a type of control flow statement that allows code to repeat over and over again until it’s told otherwise. This is helpful for when you need to go through an extremely long list of items like every single entry in a massive spreadsheet or something similar. The program will keep running through the code until it’s told to stop by the end-user or based on whatever criteria were programmed into the while loop itself.

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