Well, you may have heard something similar before. “A computer program is a set of instructions.” Here’s the problem. This sounds like one of those phrases that may be technically true and is a bit useless, since the human brain is 80% water. Because you hear this phrase, but then you see a complex program such as Photoshop or Flash or something playing HD video or 3D game and think. “Yes, but it cannot be just a set of instructions” But that’s exactly what it is, to all of them. Each computer program is a set of instructions, a sequence of small separate commands, and one after the other.
Now there maybe five instructions contained in a program, perhaps 5,000, perhaps 5,000,000. Each statement is telling the computer to do something very small, but very specific and the art of programming is to take a broader view and break in each of these phases, and the wonderful thing is that everyone can already do.
A code must be Specific, individual, simple, clear, self-contained instructions.
So with the programming that we are giving instructions to the computer, it’s breaking apart a more complex idea, a more complex task, into best individual instructions and then using a programming language to write these instructions
Now, of course if you have never programmed, it’s not clear right now what those instructions might be. You know it’s probably not turn right and turn left like when you are guiding someone to a place.
So what are those basic fundamental instruction you give a computer?
Well, they are often very basic. They are things like add two numbers together, or display a letter on the screen, check to see if the user just hit the spacebar, change the color of one individual pixel.
When beginning programming to complex games or applications, well that’s what you get when you have a hundred people writing these instructions for sixty hours a week for several years, combined with the ability of the computer to process them mind-bogglingly fast, means that we could, if we wanted to, write the set of instructions that could calculate every single individual pixel on the screen thirty times a second.
Computers do exactly what you tell, so the instructions that give them a better sense. In programming languages that are writing these instructions in writing what are called statements.
Statements in programming languages are kind of like sentences in English. They use words, numbers, and punctuation to express one thought, one individual piece. Most programming statements are pretty short, just a few words.
Now, exactly what words, numbers, and punctuation you use depends on the programming language. Some languages want each of your statements to end with a semicolon, like ending a sentence in English with a period, and others don’t. You just go to the next line and start writing the next statement. Some languages are all uppercase, some languages are all lowercase, and some languages just don’t care.
Now, understanding the rules of each language understands the syntax of a programming language. So programming is the ability to take this idea in your head, break it apart into its individual pieces, and know how to write those pieces in the programming language you are using at the time, writing your statements in the right order, using the right syntax, but what language? Well, sometimes you get to pick a language and sometimes it’s kind of picked for you.