What is programming?

Programming is the art of creating computer programs. A computer nowadays is capable of processing billions of instructions per second. Such instructions together form a computer program. There are many kinds of computer programs: word processors, media players, games, computer algebra systems, programs to create other programs, etc.

Programming languages

Computers themselves work with 0-s and 1-s, and that's not the way our mind works. So people invented human-readable languages which a computer could translate into the 0-s and 1-s they can execute. These languages are called programming languages. Examples are: BASIC, Pascal, C, C++ and Java. The programs translating these languages into binary 0-1 code are generally called compilers. Besides abstracting away from the way the 0-s and 1-s represent instructions for the computer, programming languages also provide higher level instructions or even higher level approaches to the whole concept of a computer program in general.

Because a computer is very good at doing exactly what it is told and cannot form an opinion about things itself like humans can — well unless you told them how to do this, but that is considered very difficult — they won't prevent you from writing programs with errors, called bugs. In the early days of computing, bugs (insects) sometimes caused failures because they interfered with the computer hardware. Humans make errors, and so do the programs they write. The effect of a bug can range from simply prohibiting you to use a particular intended function of the program to providing others unauthorized access to your system (called a security bug).

What's cool about programming?

When I had my first computer, I always wondered whether I could write my own computer programs. After some time I figured out how to write my own programs using QBasic. In those days I wrote many small programs, many of which were never finished. I remember I wrote a simple asteroid game as well a program to test my vocabulary for school. Actually, when writing a computer program, your imagination is the limit.

Sometimes you're trying and trying to get your program to work, but then suddenly it works, and that can be really satisfactory!

My programs

Over time, I have written many programs, with different purposes:
  • I wrote some games; see my games page for a playable example.
  • I wrote many programs to solve a particular algorithmic problem, usually in the context of programming contests. Examples of such contests are the NIO, IOI, DKP, BAPC (former NKP), NWERC (part of the ACM-ICPC), and Challenge24.
  • I wrote some programs as part of my study Mathematics.
  • I wrote some programs as employee. You should really take a look at eQuill, our report generator, a project I've been working on for several years now. My employer is always looking for students that like to do some programming, so if you live in the Netherlands and are looking for a challenging job, go to our website and send us an email.

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