C is a high-level programming language that was developed in the mid-1970s. It was originally used for writing Unix programs, but is now used to write applications for nearly every available platform. Compared to most previous languages, C is easier to read, more flexible (can be used for a wide variety of purposes), and more efficient at using memory.
C++, pronounced “C plus plus,” is a programming language that was built off the C language. The syntax of C++ is nearly identical to C, but it has object-oriented features, which allow the programmer to create objects within the code. This makes programming easier, more efficient, and some would even say, more fun. Because of the power and flexibility of the language, most software programs today are written in C++.
A programming paradigm is a methodology or way of programming that a programming language supports. Here is a summary of a few common paradigms:
A declarative language will focus more on specifying what a language is supposed to accomplish rather than by what means it is supposed to accomplish it. Such a paradigm might be used to avoid undesired side-effects resulting from having to write one’s own code.
Functional programming is a subset of declarative programming that tries to express problems in terms of mathematical equations and functions. It goes out of its way to avoid the concepts of states and mutable variables which are common in imperative languages.
Generic programming focuses on writing Skeleton algorithms in terms of types that will be specified when the algorithm is actually used, thus allowing some leniency to programmers who wish to avoid strict strong typing rules. It can be a very powerful paradigm if well-implemented.
Imperative languages allow programmers to give the computer ordered lists of instructions without necessarily having to explicitly state the task. It can be thought of being the opposite of declarative programming.
Structured programming languages aim to provide some form of noteworthy structure to a language, such as intuitive control over the order in which statements are executed (if X then do Y otherwise do Z, do X while Y is Z). Such languages generally deprecate “jumps”, such as those provided by the goto statement in C and C++.
Although it is sometimes used as a synonym for imperative programming, a procedural programming language can also refer to an imperative structured programming language which supports the concept of procedures and subroutines (also known as functions in C or C++).
Object-Oriented programming (sometimes abbreviated to OOP) is a subset of structured programming which expresses programs in the terms of “objects”, which are meant to model objects in the real world. Such a paradigm allows code to be reused in remarkable ways and is meant to be easy to understand.
The Features of C++ as a Language
- For a time, C++ had no official standard and was maintained by a de-facto standard, however since 1998, C++ is standardized by a committee of the ISO. Their page may be accessed here.
- C++ compiles directly to a machine’s native code, allowing it to be one of the fastest languages in the world, if optimized.
- C++ is a language that expects the programmer to know what he or she is doing, but allows for incredible amounts of control as a result.
- As of the latest C++ standard, C++ supports both manifest and inferred typing, allowing flexibility and a means of avoiding verbosity where desired.
- C++ allows type conversions to be checked either at compile-time or at run-time, again offering another degree of flexibility. Most C++ type checking is, however, static.
- C++ offers remarkable support for procedural, generic, and object-oriented programming paradigms, with many other paradigms being possible as well.
- As one of the most frequently used languages in the world and as an open language, C++ has a wide range of compilers that run on many different platforms that support it. Code that exclusively uses C++’s standard library will run on many platforms with few to no changes.
- C++, being a language that directly builds off C, is compatible with almost all C code. C++ can use C libraries with few to no modifications of the libraries’ code.
- A search for “library” on the popular project-management website SourceForge will yield over 3000 results for C++ libraries. A link to the results of the search may be found here.