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A low-level programming language is a programming language that provides little or no abstraction from a computer's instruction set architecture—commands or functions in the language map that are structurally similar to processor's instructions. Generally, this refers to either machine code or assembly language. Because of the low (hence the word) abstraction between the language and machine language, low-level languages are sometimes described as being "close to the hardware". Programs written in low-level languages tend to be relatively non-portable, due to being optimized for a certain type of system architecture.
Low-level languages can convert to machine code without a compiler or interpreter – second-generation programming languages use a simpler processor called an assembler – and the resulting code runs directly on the processor. A program written in a low-level language can be made to run very quickly, with a small memory footprint. An equivalent program in a high-level language can be less efficient and use more memory. Low-level languages are simple, but considered difficult to use, due to numerous technical details that the programmer must remember. By comparison, a high-level programming language isolates execution semantics of a computer architecture from the specification of the program, which simplifies development.
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