High-level programming language

In computer science, a high-level programming language is a programming language with strong abstraction from the details of the computer. In contrast to low-level programming languages, it may use natural language elements, be easier to use, or may automate (or even hide entirely) significant areas of computing systems (e.g. memory management), making the process of developing a program simpler and more understandable than when using a lower-level language. The amount of abstraction provided defines how "high-level" a programming language is.[1]

In the 1960s, a high-level programming language using a compiler was commonly called an autocode.[2] Examples of autocodes are COBOL and Fortran.[3]

The first high-level programming language designed for computers was Plankalkül, created by Konrad Zuse.[4] However, it was not implemented in his time, and his original contributions were largely isolated from other developments due to World War II, aside from the language's influence on the "Superplan" language by Heinz Rutishauser and also to some degree ALGOL. The first significantly widespread high-level language was Fortran, a machine-independent development of IBM's earlier Autocode systems. The ALGOL family, with ALGOL 58 defined in 1958 and ALGOL 60 defined in 1960 by committees of European and American computer scientists, introduced recursion as well as nested functions under lexical scope. ALGOL 60 was also the first language with a clear distinction between value and name-parameters and their corresponding semantics.[5] ALGOL also introduced several structured programming concepts, such as the while-do and if-then-else constructs and its syntax was the first to be described in formal notation – Backus–Naur form (BNF). During roughly the same period, COBOL introduced records (also called structs) and Lisp introduced a fully general lambda abstraction in a programming language for the first time.

  1. ^ HThreads - RD Glossary
  2. ^ London, Keith (1968). "4, Programming". Introduction to Computers. 24 Russell Square London WC1: Faber and Faber Limited. p. 184. ISBN 0571085938. The 'high' level programming languages are often called autocodes and the processor program, a compiler.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ London, Keith (1968). "4, Programming". Introduction to Computers. 24 Russell Square London WC1: Faber and Faber Limited. p. 186. ISBN 0571085938. Two high level programming languages which can be used here as examples to illustrate the structure and purpose of autocodes are COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) and FORTRAN (Formular Translation).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. ^ Giloi, Wolfgang, K. (1997). "Konrad Zuse's Plankalkül: The First High-Level "non von Neumann" Programming Language". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 17–24, April–June, 1997. (abstract)
  5. ^ Although it lacked a notion of reference-parameters, which could be a problem in some situations. Several successors, including ALGOL W, ALGOL 68, Simula, Pascal, Modula and Ada thus included reference-parameters (The related C-language family instead allowed addresses as value-parameters).

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