In computing, a programming language designed to suit the requirements of the programmer; it is independent of the internal machine code of any particular computer. High-level languages are used to solve problems and are often described as problem-oriented languages; for example, BASIC was designed to be easily learnt by first-time programmers; COBOL is used to write programs solving business problems; and FORTRAN is used for programs solving scientific and mathematical problems.
With the increasing popularity of windows-based systems, the next generation of programming languages was designed to facilitate the development of GUI interfaces; for example, Visual Basic wraps the BASIC language in a graphical programming environment. Support for object-oriented programming has also become more common, for example in C++ and Java. In contrast, low-level languages, such as assembly languages, closely reflect the machine codes of specific computers, and are therefore described as machine-oriented languages.
Unlike low-level languages, high-level languages are relatively easy to learn because the instructions bear a close resemblance to everyday language, and because the programmer does not require a detailed knowledge of the internal workings of the computer. Each instruction in a high-level language is equivalent to several machine-code instructions. High-level programs are therefore more compact than equivalent low-level programs. However, each high-level instruction must be translated into machine code – by either a compiler or an interpreter program – before it can be executed by a computer. High-level languages are designed to be portable – programs written in a high-level language can be run on any computer that has a compiler or interpreter for that particular language.
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