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What does it mean 'Python is high-level'?

Tomasz Szewczyk

IT is a characteristic world full of jargon and complicated technical terms. For people not aware of advanced details developers language sounds like a never ending stream of magic spells. On the other hand, developers find it hard to describe complex systems using simple words. To help you find yourself in the overwhelming world of IT I created a series of posts addressing the most important attributes of most significant programming languages.

What is Python?

Python is a modern and popular general purpose programming language. It is one of the most popular programming languages. It was designed with clarity and readability in mind. Python’s name was inspired by Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Most important Python’s attributes could be described in a few short technical terms, which sounds very mysterious for people without experience in the IT world. All of those attributes can be explained in a more straightforward way using some clever analogies.

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Python is high-level

Python is a high-level programming language. What does it mean? Developers distinguish high- and low-level programming languages to describe how well they abstract computers’ internal details for them.

To put it simply, the more high-level the language is, the less things there are for developers to care about. In exchange they can put their effort into implementation of the business logic, which is what customers pay for in the end.

An interesting analogy to high- and low-level programming languages are cars with manual and automatic gearboxes. Manual box is more low-level than automatic in a sense the driver has to drive cars’ mechanisms in a much more direct way. He has to be more aware of how the car internally works too. Usually it means a person able to drive manuals can drive automatic with very little adaptation.

Python offers a number of tools, which are not derived directly from a computers’ principle of operation. Automatic memory management and lambda functions are examples of such features. I will be writing about them in future posts.

Rust, C and Assembler, among others, are examples of low-level languages. They require more skill and better familiarity with computers’ principle of operation and particular platform specificity from the developer. That is why low-level programming languages are considered hard.

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Python is one of the most popular modern programming languages. If you have any contact with the IT world, you will stumble upon Python at some point in time. I believe my guide will help you understand Python’s characteristics and how it differs from other programming languages.

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