In the world, it is estimated that there are more than 7,000 different languages, in addition, there are other types of language that allow human beings to express their thoughts through words. To mention some of the best known: braille (used by blind people) or signs (used by those with hearing loss).
But with the arrival of new technologies, this form of communication was not enough and computer languages made their appearance. In a few words: those who understand computers and what is used by programmers to transmit the orders they have to execute.
Bárbara Álvarez Torres is a professor in the area of Computer Languages and Systems at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena and for all those who are interested in knowing which computer languages are most popular among qualified programmers around the world, she recommends consulting on the Internet the TIOBE index, “a popularity indicator that has been updated once a month for the last twenty years,” he says.
– Speaking of computer language is not only to speak of the one used to program, but there are more types, right?
– Indeed, there are many computer languages, perhaps the most widespread are the high-level programming languages, which is the means used to create a program, that is, to tell the computer what to do and how to do it . But there are more types of computer languages, for example, specification languages to model or describe what a program already written in a programming language must later do, query languages to access or consult information in databases, languages marks to describe the format or structure of documents, etc. All of them allow us to develop software to tell a computer to do a certain job, but this job can be done because there is electronic circuitry or hardware that performs these tasks, which by the way only understands electrical signals.
–Can you compare the learning of a language with that of a computer language?
– In my opinion it cannot be compared, they have very different problems. In learning a language there is an auditory and pronunciation component that you do not have when learning a computer language. That does not mean that learning computer languages is easier or more difficult, I think it depends on the skills of the person and their learning. You can have qualities to speak many languages and not have the skills to know how to use a computer language and vice versa, you can be an excellent programmer and only know your mother tongue. Speaking of languages, it must be said that the lexicon of computer languages is mostly English. Let’s say that, when learning a computer language, for example, programming, we are going to learn English vocabulary.
– Are they universal? In other words, whoever learns to program in Spain also knows how to do it, for example, in China?
Yes, of course they are universal. The lexicon and syntax of a programming language is typical of that language and is used the same in any country. This does not mean that a program written in a language commonly used for programming will work on all computers in the world since each type of computer has its own processor, which only understands its own machine language, Let’s say you only understand your ‘mother tongue’. This machine language of each type or model of processor is still another computer language, but much more tedious to learn because they work at a level very close to hardware and are not valid for another type of machine. Therefore, all programs written in languages such as Java, Python, C, etc … to name the most used, are valid throughout the world, but they have to be translated into the machine language that each processor understands. And this is done by other programs that are translators, known as compilers or interpreters in computer terms. But these are developed by other programmers, we do not have to worry at the moment to learn to program.
–Does learning a computer language require other skills? For example, knowing mathematics.
– Knowing mathematics is another skill that of course facilitates learning, but it is not a necessity in principle. For example, if we develop more complex programs to perform analysis on statistical data, then if we would need to know the mathematical functions necessary to be able to write them in a computer language. But it would already be something more specific and advanced. As if we have to program a control system of a physical device we will have to understand how it works. That is, it depends on what is programmed. Obviously, you always have to be aware of how the software that we are going to develop has to work.
There are other skills that must be put into practice from the beginning of learning, some as simple as being orderly, organizing well the instructions that we transmit to the computer and entering comments so that others understand what we have done and can maintain it, extend it or reuse it.
–Is there a limited number of computer languages or do new ones appear periodically?
-Not. Precisely because these languages are associated with the evolution of new technologies, they are not limited, and new types will even emerge. The evolution of technologies will tell us when it will emerge. It is not something periodic, although it is true that certain companies update their computer languages by releasing new versions in a way if not periodically every little time.