What is high-level language, Assembly language and machine language?

Machine Language code
Machine Language code

1. Machine Language

A program written in machine language is a collection of binary digits or bits that the computer reads and interprets. It is a system of instructions and data executed directly by a computer∙s CPU. It is also referred to as machine code or object code. It is written as strings of 0’s and 1∙s, as shown in Figure 6.10. Some of the features of a program written in machine language are as follows:

Machine Language code
Machine Language code

The computer can understand the programs written in machine language directly. No translation of the program is needed.

  • Program written in machine language can be executed very fast (Since no translation is required).
  • Machine language is defined by the hardware of a computer. It depends on the type of the processor or processor family that the computer uses, and is thus machine-dependent. A machine- level program written on one computer may not work on another computer with a different processor.
  • Computers may also differ in other details, such as memory arrangement, operating systems, and peripheral devices; because a program normally relies on such factors, different computer may not run the same machine language program, even when the same type of processor is used.
  • Most machine-level instructions have one or more opcode fields which specify the basic instruction type (such as arithmetic, logical, jump, etc), the actual operation (such as add or compare), and some other fields.
  • It is difficult to write a program in machine language as it has to be written in binary code. For e.g., 00010001 11001001. Such programs are also difficult to modify.
  • Since writing programs in machine language is very difficult, programs are hardly written in machine language.

2. Assembly Language

A program written in assembly language uses symbolic representation of machine codes needed to program a particular processor (CPU) or processor family. This representation is usually defined by the CPU manufacturer, and is based on abbreviations (called mnemonics) that help the programmer remember individual instructions, registers, etc. Small, English-like representation is used to write the program in assembly language, as shown in Figure 6.11. Some of the features of a program written in assembly language are as follows:

Assembly language code
Assembly language code


3. High-level Language

A program in a high-level language is written in English-like language. Such languages hide the details of CPU operations and are easily portable across computers. A high-level language isolates the execution semantics of computer architecture from the specification of the program, making the process of developing a program simpler and more understandable with respect to assembly and machine level languages. Some of the features of a program written in high-level language are as follows:

High-level Language
High-level Language

Programs are easier to write, read or understand in high-level languages than in machine language or assembly language. For example, a program written in C++ is easier to understand than a machine language program (Figure 6.12).

  • Programs written in high-level languages is the source code which is converted into the object code (machine code) using translator software like interpreter or compiler.
  • A line of code in high-level program may correspond to more than one line of machine code.
  • Programs written in high-level languages are easily portable from one computer to another.


What is Programming Languages? Types of Programming Languages?


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