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Lessons Lesson 1: What is Programming? Bookmark and Share
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Formally: "A program is a precise sequence of steps to solve a particular problem."

At its most basic level, programming a computer simply means telling it what to do. Without these instructions or programs computers are merely dumb machines. Computers are incredibly stupid. They do exactly what we tell them to do: no more, no less-- unlike human beings. Computers can't think by themselves. In this sense, they differ from human beings. For example, if someone asks you, “What is the time?”, “Time please?” or just, “Time?” you understand anyway that he is asking the time but computer is different. Instructions to the computer should be explicitly stated. Computer will tell you the time only if you ask it in the way you have programmed it. When you're programming, it helps to be able to "think'' as stupidly as the computer does, so that you are in the right frame of mind for specifying everything in minute detail, and not assuming that the right thing will happen by itself.

The Receipe of a good Program:

In order to design a program effectively and properly we must have a recipe to follow. In the book name ‘How to design programs’ by Matthias Felleisen and the co-worker, the idea of design recipe has been stated very elegenlty as “Learning to design programs is like learning to play soccer. A player must learn to trap a ball, to dribble with a ball, to pass, and to shoot a ball. Once the player knows those basic skills, the next goals are to learn to play a position, to play certain strategies, to choose among feasible strategies, and, on occasion, to create variations of a strategy because none fits.“ The author then continues to say that: “A programmer is also very much like an architect, a composers, or a writer. They are creative people who start with ideas in their heads and blank pieces of paper. They conceive of an idea, form a mental outline, and refine it on paper until their writings reflect their mental image as much as possible. As they bring their ideas to paper, they employ basic drawing, writing, and playing music to express certain style elements of a building, to describe a person's character, or to formulate portions of a melody. They can practice their trade because they have honed their basic skills for a long time and can use them on an instinctive level. Programmers also form outlines, translate them into first designs, and iteratively refine them until they truly match the initial idea. Indeed, the best programmers edit and rewrite their programs many times until they meet certain aesthetic standards. And just like soccer players, architects, composers, or writers, programmers must practice the basic skills of their trade for a long time before they can be truly creative. Design recipes are the equivalent of soccer ball handling techniques, writing techniques, arrangements, and drawing skills. “ Hence to design a program properly, we must:

o Analyze a problem statement, typically expressed as a word problem.
o Express its essence, abstractly and with examples.
o Formulate statements and comments in a precise language.
o Evaluate and revise the activities in light of checks and tests and
o Pay attention to detail.

All of these are activities are very useful for a programmer.

The above details are provided just for the sake of completeness and do not worry if the above sounds greek to you. it is natural. If, after going half of the course, you come back here then you will be in a perfect position to understand all of this. We have kept this boring detail to a limit. There were other topics like types of softwares, system software, application software, device drivers and the dry background of C programming language, which we have not included in this tutorial / guide. Our focus in this tutorial / guide is on programming C / C++.


From the next lesson we will be doing actual programming. So, if you do not have one, get ready your C / C++ IDE. Bloodshed Dev C++ is a very popular IDE for C / C++, which you can download from the following URLs:

1. http://www.download.com

2. http://sourceforge.net

NEXT>>>>>Lesson 2. First C Program

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