Third-generation programming language
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A third-generation programming language (3GL) is a refinement of a second-generation programming language. The second generation of programming languages brought logical structure to software. The third generation brought refinements to make the languages more programmer-friendly. This includes features like improved support for aggregate data types, and expressing concepts in a way that favors the programmer, not the computer (e.g. no longer needing to state the length of multi-character (string) literals in Fortran). A third generation language improves over a second generation language by having the computer take care of non-essential details, not the programmer. "High level language" is a synonym for third-generation programming language.
Most popular general-purpose languages today, such as C, C++, C#, Java, BASIC and Pascal, are also third-generation languages, although C++, Java and C# follow a completely different path as they are object-oriented in nature. Third generation focused on structured and had no meaning for the object encapsulation concepts.
Most 3GLs support structured programming.
A programming language such as C, FORTRAN, or Pascal enables a programmer to write programs that are more or less independent from a particular type of computer. Such languages are considered high-level because they are closer to human languages and further from machine languages. In contrast, assembly languages are considered low-level because they are very close to machine languages.
The main advantage of high-level languages over low-level languages is that they are easier to read, write, and maintain. Ultimately, programs written in a high-level language must be translated into machine language by a compiler or interpreter.
The first high-level programming languages were designed in the 1950s. Examples of high level languages are ALGOL, COBOL, FORTRAN, and Ada. These programs could run on different machines so they were machine-independent.
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