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A high level computer language is one that is essentially independent of any specific computer platform.
High level languages use English-like instructions. Each high-level language instruction does the same job as multiple assembly language instructions. High level language programs are easier to write and understand than machine language programs, more closely resemble human language, but cannot be executed directly by the computer. For this reason, programs are usually first written in a high level computer language, and then translated into machine language by a compiler or interpreter so that they can be executed by the computer.
“[T]oday's high-level programming languages (such as Java and C) were made possible by research that uncovered techniques for converting the high-level statements into machine code for execution on a computer."
Examples of high level computer languages include:
- FORTRAN – for years, the dominant language for mathematics and scientific programming
- PL/I – an attempt to create a "be all and end all" language
- COBOL – for years, the dominant language for business applications