C Programming Tutorial for Beginners

What is C Programming Language? Full Introduction with Features, Benefits, History


what is c language

Are you interested in expanding your programming knowledge and skills? Want to know what is C programming and its features? This write-up covers the complete introduction to C language.

C Programming is a versatile, high-level programming language that has been widely used in the development of many of the world's most influential software systems. With its efficiency and ability to handle low-level tasks, C is considered a cornerstone of modern computer science.

Whether you're a seasoned programmer or just starting your coding journey, understanding what is C programming is essential for anyone looking to take their skills to the next level.

Join us in this deep dive into the first chapter of our C programming tutorial for beginners, where we'll explore:

What is Programming Language?

Language is a way of communication between two or more mediums. Programming is the language for computers or applications that are used for giving commands and instructions to the system. 

Programming languages are used by developers to create instructions that are meant to perform a particular task on the computer.

Knowing about programming helps in learning advancements in the IT sector, which is the game-changer in how computers are used in modern times. A computer language is also known as a programming language and is used to create software programs, apps, and scripts. Developers or programmers can give commands to computers with the help of programming languages.

The programming done by the user is processed by the machine language, and the computer understands the instructions through that.

There are tens of thousands of languages created now, but only a handful of them are used on a big scale. Languages like C, C++, Python, Java, Kotlin, JavaScript, PHP, and R languages are popular names among programmers. 

In addition to the C language tutorial, we have also crafted a comprehensive Python tutorial for beginners. You can check that out by clicking on the linked page.

Different Types of Programming Languages

Computer programming is generally of three types:

1. Low-level programming languages

This language is machine-run and can understand only 0 and 1. The processor runs fast in it, and it does not require any compiler. It requires further continuous instructions from programmers to run smoothly. 

Further, low-level language can be divided into two parts.

  • Machine language

It is written in binary or hexadecimal form. It is not presented in mathematical language for humans to understand. Codes in machine language are different on every computer, which is why machine languages are tough to write.

  • Assembly language

The Assembly language is a step ahead of machine language. It allows programmers to assign values to codes. Programs can be written in short instead of writing full binary or hexadecimal.

It can be easily translated into machine language. It is very useful when peripheral devices are connected to the computer as it needs detailing about the computer system.

2. Middle-level programming languages

Middle-level languages stand somewhere near low-level and high-level programming languages. It is also known as pseudo-language.

These languages are close to machine language, and it also supports high-level programming.

C language is an example of a middle-level programming language.

3. High-level programming languages

High-level programming languages are the most complex ones. They need a compiler or interpreter to execute a program.

High-level programming languages can be divided into three further parts:

  • Procedural Oriented Programming (POP)

  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

  • Natural Programming

Languages like Python, PHP, C++, and Java are some examples of high-level programming languages.

What is C Programming Language? Definition in Simple Terms

C is one of the most popular and oldest programming languages. It was developed by Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan in 1972. 

It is a general-purpose, high-level programming language that has been an integral part of the computer programming landscape for over four decades. Known for its efficiency, versatility, and ability to handle low-level tasks, C has been used in the development of many of the world's most influential software systems.

C programming language gives programmers a free hand in operating data addresses and values in the data. It is used in various fields as it is a combination of both high and low-level languages. In simple words, C language is a middle-level programming language that is used to develop programs with low difficulty levels.

It is used in application development, game creation, driver development, program development, text editors development, compilers, artificial intelligence, and other software.

C is faster in process, structure-oriented, and can be extended easily. It is used in complex calculations and operated in MATLAB.

Example of C Program

Here is an example of a program in which C language is used:

#include <stdio.h>
int main ()
Printf (“Hello World! \n”)
“Hello Word!”

In this program, the #include line includes the standard input/output header file, which contains definitions for the printf function. The main function is the entry point of the program, and printf is used to print the message "Hello, World!" to the console. 

The major achievement in C was the UNIX operating system, which laid the foundation for C language, and then many languages rose with advanced updations like C++, C#, Java, etc. Hope you now have a good idea of what is C programming definition.

Brief History of C Language

Let’s know about the history of C programming language now. Initially, the programs were written in binary form, and then machine languages were named first-generation languages. 

After that, second-generation programming languages (assembly languages) were introduced. The third generation of programming language, or the first generation of a high-level language, was written in the 1950s.

Between 1969 and 1973, the C programming language was introduced, which was developed by Dennis Ritchie for the UNIX Operating System. C is considered the mother language of all languages, as it is the base for other programming languages.

Currently, it is used in many organizations, including big names like Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle. Industries like engineering, IT, management, healthcare, computer graphics, game processing, and artificial intelligence are the biggest users of the C programming language.

Other than UNIX, it is also used in system applications of Windows and many embedded software. The TAO system of Metaverse’s Facebook is programmed majorly using the C language.

What Are Features of C Language?

There are various C language features and characteristics you must know when knowing about the introduction to C programming. 

1. Low-level Access to Memory

C provides direct access to the computer's memory, which makes it possible to write system-level software such as operating systems, device drivers, and embedded systems.

2. Portability

C programs can run on any machine with a C compiler, making it highly portable across different operating systems and platforms.

3. Modularity

C encourages the development of modular code, making it easier to maintain and reuse code.

4. Rich Library of Functions

C provides a rich library of functions, including string manipulation functions, mathematical functions, and input/output functions, which makes it easier to write complex programs.

5. Pointers

C provides support for pointers, which are variables that store memory addresses. This feature is particularly useful for low-level programming tasks and dynamic memory management.

6. Structured Programming

C supports structured programming, which encourages the development of organized and modular code.

7. Object-Oriented Features

Although C is not an object-oriented language, it supports many of the features of object-oriented programming, including encapsulation, data abstraction, and polymorphism.

8. Speed

C is a compiled language, which means that the code is translated into machine code before execution. This makes C programs fast and efficient, especially when compared to interpreted languages.

9. Dynamic Memory Allocation

C supports dynamic memory allocation, which allows programs to allocate and deallocate memory as needed at runtime.

10. C++ Compatibility

C is the foundation of the C++ programming language, and C++ includes all of the features of C. This means that C programs can easily be incorporated into C++ programs, making it easier to integrate existing C code into new projects.

With these top C programming features, several other qualities make C the mother of most of the programming languages that exist today.

Top Uses of C Language

C programming is widely used for a variety of purposes, including:

1. System software development

C is often used for developing operating systems, device drivers, and other system-level software.

2. Embedded systems

C is a popular choice for developing software for embedded systems, such as microcontrollers and other small, single-purpose devices.

3. Game development

C is used for developing computer games, particularly for game engines and other performance-critical components.

4. Application development

C is used for developing a wide range of applications, including compilers, databases, and other tools.

5. Learning to program

C is often used as a teaching language for computer science and programming, as it provides a strong foundation in computer science concepts and programming fundamentals.

6. Scientific and numerical computing

C is used for scientific and numerical computing, as it provides low-level control over memory and processing, making it well-suited for these types of applications.

7. Operating system kernels

Many operating system kernels, including Windows, Unix, and Linux, are written in C.

8. High-performance applications

C is often used for high-performance applications, such as financial modeling, image and audio processing, and simulations, as it provides fast and efficient execution.

FAQs Related to C Programming Introduction

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about C programming meaning and definition:

1. Why is C programming important?

C programming is important because it is a low-level language that provides a lot of control over the system, making it a popular choice for system-level programming. It also forms the basis for many other programming languages, such as C++ and Java.

2. What are the features of C programming?

C programming has several features, including structured programming, low-level memory access, portability, efficiency, and a rich set of built-in functions.

3. What is the difference between C and C++?

C++ is an extension of C programming with object-oriented programming features, such as classes, objects, and inheritance. C++ also includes additional libraries and features that make it easier to use than C.

4. What is the latest version of C programming?

The latest version of C programming is C18, which was standardized in 2018 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

5. What are the real-world applications of C programming?

C programming is widely used in real-world applications, including operating systems, device drivers, embedded systems, and other system-level software. It's also used for developing computer games, compilers, databases, and other applications.

6. What are the benefits of learning C programming?

The benefits of learning C programming include a strong foundation in computer science, the ability to write efficient and low-level code, and the ability to understand and use other programming languages that are based on C.

7. What are the basic data types in C programming?

The basic data types in C programming include int (integer), float (floating point number), char (character), and double (double precision floating point number).

8. How do I run a C program?

A C program can be run by first compiling the source code into an executable program, and then running the executable program. This process can be done using a compiler, such as GCC (GNU Compiler Collection).

9. What are the advantages of C programming over other programming languages?

The advantages of C programming over other programming languages include low-level access to memory, efficient execution, and the ability to write system-level software.

10. What are pointers in C programming?

Pointers in C language are variables that store the memory address of another variable. They are used to dynamically allocate memory and to pass variables to functions by reference.

11. What is an array in C programming?

An array in C programming is a collection of variables of the same data type, stored in contiguous memory locations. Arrays can be used to store multiple values of the same data type.

12. What is a function in C programming?

Functions in C programming is a self-contained block of code that performs a specific task. Functions can take parameters and return a value, making it possible to reuse code in multiple places within a program.

13. What is the use of a preprocessor in C programming?

The preprocessor in C programming is used to process directives, such as #define and #include, before the source code is compiled. The preprocessor can be used to include header files, define macros, and perform other tasks.

This was all about the introduction to the C programming language. In the next chapters, we will talk about:

And more. Visit the main page of our comprehensive C Language Tutorial for Beginners to check the complete list of topics we have covered. 

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