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What is computer programming?

Computer programming is the process of writing instructions that are to be executed by computers. These written instructions are often called “code,” as they are written in one of several special programming languages which the computer can understand. Those who can write instructions in one of these codes are called coders, or programmers. 

A programmer’s tasks include understanding project requirements, determining the right programming language to use, designing the solution, coding it, testing and debugging the code, and finally writing documentation that allows their solution to be easily understood by other programmers.

Computer programming is at the heart of computer science and is the implementation portion of software development, application development, and software engineering efforts. It transforms ideas and theories into working solutions.

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Computer programming FAQ

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Computer programming is the code that tells a computer how to take specific actions when it runs a program or app. It is the set of instructions, often millions of lines long, which allows a laptop to process a letter, publish an article, or run the instructions for video games. 

Programming language is the special code that holds all of the instructions that the computer can understand and act upon. There are hundreds of different programming languages – each used for different types of tasks. As a beginner computer programmer, you’ll only be expected to understand a handful of them. 

A programmer will have to interpret the requirements of a project, decide which programming languages to use and design a workable programming solution. They will need to write out the code, test it and fix any errors, commonly referred to as “debugging”. Finally they will document and record the changes. 

A coding boot camp can last between 12 and 16 weeks. Other courses may take between six months to a year to learn basic coding. A four-year bachelor’s degree program or a similar amount of working experience is generally required before you can call yourself an intermediate or expert programmer. Ultimately, the length of time will depend on your learning path and level of commitment to studying and practice.

Anyone with a high school understanding of mathematics can usually learn the basics of computer programming, but some people may find it challenging. With support and resources, those interested in computer programming may find it quite rewarding. 

Math basics are used in coding so it’s useful to have a solid grasp of the foundations. It is useful to have some knowledge of discrete mathematics, linear algebra, calculus, probability, cryptography, geometry and statistics.Footnote2

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