Introduction to C Programming Language

Introduction to C Programming Language

In this article, I will give you a brief introduction to the C Programming Language. Please read our previous article discussing Platform Dependency in C Language. As part of this article, you will understand the following pointers.

  1. What is C Language?
  2. Why is C Execution Faster?
  3. Is C Platform-Dependent?
  4. Why C?
  5. Is C Preferred for Competitive Programming?
  6. Why C Language Becomes Very Popular:
  7. Advantages and Disadvantages of C Language.
  8. Applications of C Language.
  9. Features of C Programming Language.
  10. Characteristics of C Language
  11. How does the C Program Work?
What is C Language?
  1. C is a high-level/middle-level language.
  2. C is a compiler-based programming language.
  3. It is a general-purpose language.
  4. It is a procedure-oriented programming language.

The C Programming Language is a High-Level procedure-oriented structured programming language. Programming Language, which is syntactically similar to English and easy to understand, is called High-Level Programming Language. When programming language supports module or function implementation, it is called Procedure Oriented Language. Programming Language, which follows the TOP-DOWN approach in the form of blocks is called Structured Programming Language.

C is a general-purpose, high-level, evergreen, and non-exhaustive programming language originally developed by Dennis M. Ritchie in 1972 to develop the UNIX operating system at Bell Labs. It is one of the most simple, popular, and flexible programming languages. It was derived from the B language.

Key Features of C Language:
  • Simplicity and Efficiency: Provides a straightforward set of keywords coupled with low-level access to memory.
  • Portability: Programs written in C can be run on different machines with minimal or no modification.
  • Low-level Access: Offers control over system processes and memory, which is crucial for system programming.
  • Modularity: Supports modular programming style; a complex program can be divided into simpler modules.
  • Rich Library Support: Comes with a standard set of libraries (known as the Standard C Library) that provide essential functions.
C is a Multi-Purpose and General-Purpose Programming Language.

Using C language, we can design the applications like

  1. Operating system. Examples: dos, Unix, Linux, windows, android, etc.
  2. Editors. Example: Notepad, WordPad, MS Word, etc.
  3. Translators. Example: compiler, interpreter, assemble, etc.
  4. Commercial applications. Example: hotel/supermarket/college program, etc.
  5. Database. Examples: Oracle, SQL Server, My SQL, SQLite, etc.

C is a multi-purpose/general-purpose programming language?

  1. Device drivers. Examples: audio/video/printer/keyboard/mouse drivers etc.
  2. Media players. Examples: VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player, MX Player, etc.
  3. Anti-virus. Examples: Avast, Norton, MacAfee, etc.
  4. Embedded applications. Example: Tv / ac / atm programs, etc.
  5. PC and Mobile games
  6. Browsers. Example: Chrome, Firefox, etc.
  7. Standalone applications. Examples: Calculator, Anti-virus, Browsers, Media players, etc.
C is a Procedure-Oriented Programming Language [POP]:

Every programming language has a particular programming structure called a programming paradigm [structure]. Before c language, the languages are following a monolithic program structure. In this, the entire program is designed by using a single program. Due to this, it is very difficult to trace the errors, and it will be more memory. Hence, the performance is low.

C is a procedure-oriented programming language [POP]


C is a procedure-oriented programming language [POP]

To avoid this problem in the c language, a big program is divided into several small programs called subprograms, subroutines, procedures, or functions.

Introduction to C Programming Language


Introduction to C Programming Language

  1. Modularity: Dividing a big program into several small modules based on program requirements.
  2. Simplicity: easy to read/understand
  3. Reusability: write once and use it many times.
  4. Efficiency: performance is high
Pop Structure:

Pop Structure

C is a pop language

C++, python – pop & oop: multi-paradigm

Java, C# – oop

When a language follows multiple programming structures, it is called muti-paradigm.


Why C Language Execution is Faster?

The C Programming language execution is faster than high-level programming languages such as Java or C#. The reason is the C language doesn’t require the abstraction layer such as JVM (Java Virtual Machine in Java) or CLR (Common Language Runtime in C#). C language directly is compiled and executed on top of the operating system.

Is C Programming Language Platform Dependent?

The c programs are platform-independent, but the c executable files are platform-dependent. That means you can write a C program on any platform and compile it anywhere. But, once you generate executable files on one platform, you can not run those executable files on other platforms. For example, if you generate the executable files on Windows, you can run only those files on the Windows Operating system but on Linus or any other operating system. You need to re-compile the same program in Linus or any other operating system to get that particular operating system’s executable files.

Why Learn C Language?

Programming Language C was highly recommended for beginners as it is the base language for many other programming languages. Again, C was recommended to understand the basic programming concepts, such as data types, operators, control statements, and more clearly and precisely. The Syntax and semantics of the C language were easy to understand and nearly the same as widely used modern programming languages such as C++, Java, and C#. So, learning ‘C’ as the main language will play an important role while studying other programming languages.

Is C Preferred for Competitive Programming?

In recent years, competitive programming (Codechef, HackerRank, TopCoder, SPOJ) has gained huge popularity among young programmers. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook want a programmer to be good at Data Structures and Algorithms.

C++, the successor of the C language, is highly recommended for competitive programming because, In competitive programming, high priority will be given to both space and time complexity.

C++ runs a bit faster when compared to modern programming languages. C++ is a one-level abstraction of C. So, as I said earlier, if you know C, coding in C++ is not a big challenge.

Why has the C Language become very Popular?
  1. It is one of the legacy programming languages, and you can learn it quickly.
  2. The C language is reliable, flexible, simple, and, most importantly, easy to use.
  3. It is based on structured language.
  4. The C language is considered the mother of all other programming languages.
  5. Most of the Modern programming concepts are inherited from the C language.
  6. Most of the Universities preferred to add C programming to their courseware.
Advantages of C Language:
  1. Platform Dependent: As we copy the .exe file to any other computer containing Windows OS, it works properly because the native code is the same. But when the same .exe file is copied to any other computer containing UNIX/LINUX OS, it doesn’t work because the native code is different. This behavior is called Platform Dependency.
  2. Portability: We can carry the instruction from one system to another system.
  3. Easy: C Language code or syntax is very easy to understand. It uses keywords like if, else, switch, main, etc. We all use This kind of keyword daily to make decisions.
  4. Fast: The C compiler is very fast compared to other language compilers. C compiler can compile around 1000 lines of code in a second. It is more efficient than unstructured code because of its minimized branching.
  5. Readability: Maintenance of the C code is easy due to the readability of the code.
  6. Secured: C program is secured.
Disadvantages of C Language:
  1. C does not have the OOPS feature, so C++ was developed.
  2. There is no runtime checking in the C Programming Language.
  3. There is no strict type checking (for example, we can pass an integer value for the floating data type).
  4. As the program extends, it is very difficult to fix the bugs.
  5. C doesn’t have the concept of the namespace, constructors and destructors, Inheritance, Polymorphism, Abstraction, and Encapsulation like Object-Oriented Programming Language (OOPS).
What are the applications of C Language?
  • C is used to develop System software applications like UNIX, WINDOWS, LINUX, and COMPILER DESIGNING.
  • C is also used in the development of many applications like commercial products.
  • C is used in the development of Embedded and Mobile Apps.
  • C Language has good interaction with Hardware.
  • Graphic Frameworks for mobile and PC games are developed using C Language.
Features of C Programming Language

It is a simple and easy language; C is mainly used to develop desktop-based applications. All other programming languages were derived directly or indirectly from C programming concepts. This language has the following features:

  1. It is a multi-purpose language. Using C, we can design both system & application software.
  2. C is a procedure-oriented programming language [POP]
  3. C comes with a rich [more] set of operators.
  4. C comes with several predefined / library / built-in Example: printf(), scanf(), clrscr(), etc.
  5. C supports user-defined functions. Example: fact(), prime(), armstrong(), etc.
  6. Dynamic memory allocation.
History and Development of C Programming Language:

Created in the Early 1970s, C was developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs as part of the development of the UNIX operating system.
Evolution from B Language: C was an evolution of the B language derived from BCPL.

Characteristics of C Language:
  • Low-Level Capabilities: C is considered a low-level programming language compared to newer high-level languages. This means it closely relates to the machine’s hardware but maintains enough abstraction to be portable across different platforms.
  • Structured Programming: C supports structured programming, allowing complex programs to be broken down into simpler blocks or functions.
  • Static Typing: The language requires explicit declaration of variable types checked at compile time.
    Control over Memory: It provides direct control over memory allocation and de-allocation, which can lead to efficient programming but requires careful management by the programmer.
Syntax and Usage of C Language:
  • Simplicity and Efficiency: C has a relatively simple syntax, making it easier to learn and understand. It is particularly efficient for system programming and embedded systems.
  • Pointer Arithmetic: C’s use of pointers (variables that store memory addresses) allows for powerful and flexible manipulation of arrays and memory.
  • Header Files: C uses header files for declarations and includes libraries.
  • ANSI C and ISO C: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have standardized the language. The ANSI C standard, established in 1989, is a landmark in the language’s history.
  • Foundation for C++: C++ was developed as an extension of C, and C’s syntax and features have influenced many other programming languages.
  • Widely Used in System Software: The UNIX operating system, the Linux kernel, and many embedded systems are written in C.
How Does the C Program Work?
  • First, the source code is formed or created (through vi or cd command in UNIX). It is saved with an extension .c, which is known as the source file. For example, ked.c
  • The second step is to compile the source code to check for existing errors (through the cc command in UNIX or Alt+F9 in Turbo C). After compilation, if it is free from errors, the object file is generated with the extension .o (in UNIX) or .obj (in Turbo C).
  • The next step is to link the file to existing files (which is automatically done after compilation in UNIX), which generates the executable files .exe (in Turbo c) or stored in a.out (in UNIX, that always gets overwritten, which can be avoided by renaming the file a.out to some other name).
  • The last step is to run or execute the program (through ./a.out in UNIX or Ctrl+F9 in Turbo C).

In the next article, I will discuss the History and Evolution of the C Language. In this article, I try to give an overview of C Language, and I hope you enjoy this article. I would like to have your feedback. Please post your feedback, questions, or comments about this article.

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