Is PHP a high-level programming language?

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For any person starting as a programmer, PHP is one of the easiest languages to learn. Partly, this why it is a popular language to many programmers. Did you know that popular websites like Facebook use PHP?

PHP, i.e., Hypertext Preprocessor, is embeddable into HTML, making it a convenient programming language for creating web pages and applications. You know that HTML can be long with plenty of commands; however, the PHP page has HTML with an embedded code, making it easier to manage.

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), though easy to master, has specific abbreviations, coding, and algorithm rules. Again, learning PHP may not be easy for everyone – it highly depends on how you approach this scripting language. People with a background in programming may have an easier time as compared to people who don’t have a programming background. However, there are plenty of resources to make everything much easier.

Considering there is no rigid definition of categories of scripting languages, PHP may be regarded as a very high-level scripting language. A high-level programming language (HLL) allows a programmer to script programs less independent of a computer type. Ideally, these languages are fa from machine language and much closer to human language.

By contrast, low-level languages (assembly languages) are designed around hardware that runs them, making them resemble machine languages. For instance, C++ may be considered a low-level scripting language because it can directly access the hardware. However, it is also a top contender for mid-level scripting languages.

While all high-level scripting languages perform exemplary, PHP is a lot easier to use than other similar languages, including JavaScript. Look, while JavaScript will run on your browser on the browser (client), PHP runs on the server, where it generates HTML, which is sent to the client.

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Is PHP a high-level programminglanguage
Is PHP a high-level programming language

High-level programming language examples

High-level programming languages are considered the easiest languages to learn and use. However, these languages are further grouped based on their programming paradigm, i.e., the style of reasoning concerning how to solve a problem. 

Keep in mind that high-level programming languages are also called third-generation languages because they were invented after machine code (1st generation) and assembly languages (2nd generation). 

High-level programming languages withdraw numerous steps that a computer requires to solve a problem. As a result, these languages are convenient for a variety of people compared to assembly languages. 

There are different high-level language paradigms, and one of them is the imperative languages. The design of imperative languages allows them to solve only a specific type of problem. Typically, a programmer solves problems via writing a set of instructions specifying a particular process of solving a problem. What follows then is the translation of these instructions from a high-level source code to an executable object code.  

Other languages take an objected-oriented paradigm. In this case, you’ll use classes to define an object. Ideally, everything seems like an object. So, objects make it possible to model a problem before solving it. Note that it involves a module design, making it easier for you and your team to work together.

A machine code bears the instructions that tell a computer what to do. Therefore, a machine code is simply a series of numbers in binary form, where each number specifies a particular set of instructions. For programmers, machine codes are tough to learn, program, or even debug. So, programmers are shunning such languages in favor of high-level scripting language, which is close to natural languages. For example, high-level languages like Python use words like input, if, print, and while to form instructions. Aren’t these English words? 

With such language, a programmer can focus only on the necessary things instead of how the computer is working. For example, to put a message on the screen, you can use the message – PRINT. You won’t need to know how the computer generates the message – you’ll only need to know how to use “PRINT.” 

What are the common high-level programming languages?

  • Python
  • Ruby
  • C#
  • Java
  • C++
  • Perl
  • Visual Basic
  • FORTRAN            
  • JavaScript
  • Delphi
  • ECMAScript

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A while ago, C language was considered high level. Many programmers currently term it a low-level programing language since it lacks a garbage collection, i.e., it doesn’t have a large runtime-system.

Low-level programming language

Low-level programming languages literally come with no or very little abstraction from the instruction set of your computer architecture. In general terms, it stands for either an assembly language or machine code. The code is usually not human-readable and often Cryptic. Simply put, the term low level means a code that is written for the computer.

However, it is essential to note that opinions vary about low-level languages. For instance, some people define low-level scripting languages as any language that you must handle memory management. 

Look, when using a high-level scripting language, normally, you create and edit source codes using a basic text editor or an IDE. However, the computer CPU 

doesn’t directly recognize the code unless it is compiled into a low-level scripting language. 

It’s true; there is a low abstraction between the low-level language and machine language. As such, these languages are described as being close to the hardware. All low-level scripting programs are somewhat non-portable as they are optimized for specific system architecture type. 

A notable trait of low-level languages is that you can convert them into machine codes without the need for an interpreter or compiler. Nonetheless, 2nd generation scripting languages use an assembler, ensuring that the resulting codes can directly run on the processors. 

With a small memory footprint, you can make the low-level languages run significantly faster. But similar programs in a high-level language can use more memory and be less efficient.

Why machine code? Typically, a computer can process a machine code without the need for transformation. Writing a program directly in a machine code requires attention to multiple details. And since high-level programming languages can automatically write the programs, many programmers do not take that tedious route. 

Additionally, you’ll need to memorize or look up numerical codes for each and every instruction. Worse, it is very difficult to modify.  

Low-level programming language examples

In low-level languages, there is a strong correspondence between machine code instructions architecture and the instructions in the language. Every assembly language is designed for only one specific computer architecture. 

By now, you know that machine language is the lowest level of computer languages, and it has binary codes. When you compile high-level source code, you definitely generate a binary code, but each is specific for a particular processor.

 The placement of a language into either a low level or high-level category doesn’t follow specific rules. As such, some programming languages are highly debatable as to where they can be placed. 

However, the following languages are low-level programming languages:

C++/C: everyone in programming knows these two languages well as they make the core of low-level programming. C offers a stable and comfortable to code approach against application programming interface (APIs). Besides its simplicity, C is a portable assembly language. On the other hand, C++ works well for large, complex tasks, where it rarely generates errors. These languages are devoid of any fancy aspects – you only get straightforward RAII, classes, and templates. All of them are zero cost abstractions for mess up, easy to forget, or repetitive tasks. 

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Rust: this programming language boasts memory efficiency and lightning-fast speeds. It doesn’t have a runtime, and neither doesn’t have garbage collectors, but it easily integrates with other languages. Furthermore, its system is rich, which guarantees memory and thread-safety. This means you can easily remove bugs at compile-time. 

x86 assembly: this is a collection of backward-compatible assembly languages, providing some level of compatibility to the 1972 Intel 8008. The language produces object codes for the x86 class of processors. Essentially, it acts as an intermediate language offering unmatched compatibility to enterprises that do not invest in development. 

COBOL: the best programming language for the financial sector.

Is Python a high-level language?

Python tops among the best high-level programming languages. Founded in 1991 by Guido Van Rossum, Python language has made it easier for developers of all caliber to write scripts that easy to read. 

Python’s impressive thing is that there are new releases, which pack new features to make it even easier to use it. Remember, the programming scene is an innovative space. So, there are constant improvements and innovations. This way, any single language you may choose to pursue should address the entire spectrum of essential needs. 

Python is a high-level language – no doubt about it. In essence, developers term Python as a high-level language because it is very far from machine language. Simply put, the number of layers of codes between a programming language and the 0s and 1s of a machine determines a language’s level. 

For Python, there are many layers, which makes it top the list of high-level scripting languages. Beyond that, Python is also an open-source interpreted general-purpose language. What does this mean? Unlike C or Java, Python isn’t a straightforward compiled language but a dynamic language. That means you have to run it on a given platform using a different program rather than its local processor. 

The thing is:

When compiling other languages, they turn into Assembly before running directly on the processor. Python is an interpreted language and isn’t subject to the processor; thus, a high-level language. 

Furthermore, in Python, code readability comes with many conveniences, making the program’s syntax shorter and more straightforward. As a result, there are fewer coding steps than those found in other coding languages like C++. 

Python has excellent application across all industries. The reason behind Python’s fame is 

versatility, portability, dynamic, compatibility with C++ and C, a host of convenient tools and features, and it’s very interactive. 

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Types of high-level languages

Python, Ruby, and JavaScript are some of the high-level programming languages. These languages are placed in different categories based on different classifications such as application areas and design paradigms. 

It’s true; any high-level scripting language is designed with a specific target group in mind. That means you can put into particular applications, though some have a wider application area than others. While some languages are suitable for scientific areas only, other scripting languages work well for the business domain. 

There are two major classifications:

  1. Area of application

This category forks into four subtypes. They are:

  • Commercial languages: these are scripting language designed to solve business issues. Organizations use them in various ways, including handling data payroll. The best example, in this case, is COBOL
  • Scientific languages: these scripting languages are ideal for dealing with mathematical, statistical, and scientific problems. You can use them to develop programs that handle complex calculations, e.g., FORTRAN is the best example of scientific-based language.
  • Special purpose languages: languages are great for dedicated functions such as interacting with databases; thus, the name special purpose, e.g., SQL. 
  • General-purpose languages: they can develop a wide range of software apps, e.g., java, C, and BASIC.
  1. Design paradigm

Under this title, there are three subcategories:

Procedure-oriented/imperative languages: the languages are procedurally written, and each procedure has a set of instructions for a specific task. During program executions, the procedure interacts – one may call the other. Any code scripted in procedure form can be used severally, allowing the data to freely move around the entire system. Examples here include C and BASIC. 

Logic-oriented languages: they utilize logic to solve computational programs -define the relationship between facts and rules, e.g., Prolog. 

Object-oriented languages: these languages feature objects that interact with each other in the process of passing exchanging messages, e.g., C#.

Is C a high-level language?

There might be different answers to these questions. However, the generally accepted answer is that it depends on your point of view. If you compare C to other languages like Python, then C can be considered a low-level language. 

Nevertheless, if you consider it from the point of view of assembly languages, C becomes a high-level language. So, this scripting language touches the lower end of high languages. 

What does it mean?

It might suffice to say that C 

C stands at the middle; thus, middle-level language. The real thing is that it bridges that gap between high-level languages and machine languages. You’ll realize this programming language features the characteristic of both low-level and high-level scripting languages to some extent. 

Like low-level programming languages, C doesn’t have little abstractions, no memory, relatively unsafe, and no string data type. If you are quite experienced enough, you can use the C scripting language to carry out system programming – necessary for writing an operating system. This is a typical feature for Low-level languages. 

By contrast, you can use C to create application programs, a feature of high-level programming languages. That is possible because, in C, you’ll get plenty of concepts and constructs found in high-level languages – some data abstraction, strong type checking, and many others. Additionally, C only allows one actual mechanism of data hiding. However, it will enable basic run time polymorphism with a function pointer. 

Another exciting thing about C is that it offers a set of instructions that don’t depend on the processor/ machine structure. It is the compiler that generates the right code. There are fewer checks in the process, making it close to machine-level instructions. 

The level of a language only relates to code complexity vs. speed. Getting a balance between the two can be an ideal thing. 

20 examples of a high-level language

With a high-level programming language, you can easily streamline computer programs. The primary reason for making a language be placed under a high-level category is that there are a few steps to accomplish a task. Their source codes feature straightforward structures, which must be translated to a low-level code for the processor to perceive and run. 

Further, these languages are independent hardware architecture and are abstracted away from the computer. Remember, it focuses on programming logic instead of basic hardware elements such as memory address and register usage.

Common examples include: 

  1. C++
  2. C#
  3. Cobol
  4. ALGOL
  5. Fortran
  6. MySQL
  7. Java
  8. Ada
  9. JavaScript
  10. Lisp
  11. Objective C
  12. Delphi
  13. Pascal
  14. Perl
  15. Ruby
  16. ABAP
  17. PHP
  18. Python
  19. Awk
  20. Swift

A program is a set of instructions. Many people view computer language as simply a vocabulary or syntax of providing instructions. Judging by these statements, each of the above programs might have a different vocabulary or grammar. For example, the languages may treat colons differently. However, underneath all these, they are similar.  

High-level languages are meant to make programming very simple for a wide range of users regardless of their coding knowledge. However, programming goes much deeper than what is on the surface. 

Nevertheless, currently, the development of scripting languages depends on the coding experience of the developer. For instance, the driving force behind Ruby was to develop a code that was extremely easy to write. On the other hand, the focus of developing Python was to make it easier to read codes. in other cases, it was simply to make problem-solving easier or make particular types of structures more intuitive. 

High-level language vs. low-level language

The two broad types of computer programs include high-level and low-level programming languages. However, some languages that tend to have characteristics of both categories to some extend may be categorized as mid-level languages. 

A high-level language is basically closer to human language, i.e., human friendly. That makes them machine-independent, easily understood by humans, and highly portable. The languages are a product of a perfect combination of natural language character and symbols and mathematical symbols. Best of all, more of a real-world scenario, and there is no need to memorize the architecture and registers of a CPU.

On the other hand, low-level machine languages depend on the machines entirely – determine how the machine’s hardware interacts. They closely resemble the computer’s native binary language, which makes it pretty difficult to comprehend. Developers using low-level languages need to have a deeper understanding of computer hardware alongside their configuration. 

Keep in mind; they are not portable, and they are prone to errors and tough to debug. Undoubtedly, low-level languages can prove tedious, time-consuming, and tiresome. 

It’s clear; the main difference between low-level and high-level language is how easy it is to comprehend, compile, or interpret codes. In essence, a develop understands high-level language better than a machine, while a machine can easily understand low-level language than a human. 


High-Level Language      

Low-Level Language

Human friendly

Machine friendly

Highly portable – the written software can run on multiple platforms

Codes are hard to understand, and it is impossible to run codes specific to one assembly to another. 

There are lots of code abstractions and layers before reaching the hardware; thus, slow processing speed.

The code is closer to the machine, making it significantly faster to process data and return output.

Easy to debug and maintain

Comparatively difficult to debug and maintain

Requires an interpreter or compiler  to translate

It requires an assembler for translation.


Computer programing is quite common today, and with advancing technology, there are newer and easy to use scripting languages being channeled to the market. It’s true; many people are embracing programming because a lot of things depend on them. Web development and web app creation are some of these critical roles. 

An easy to use programming language makes it incredibly easy for a wide range of developers. These are called high-level languages. Ideally, the languages use human-like; therefore, easy to use. While this is good, it comes with some shortcomings- slow speed. 

Contrarily, low-level languages are more machine friendly, making it difficult for humans to comprehend. However, they for robust processing speeds when put to work. 

While selecting a programming language, it is essential to consider the application or software you need to create. Though all languages within a particular class have a similar plan, they have a few differences that make working on a particular project either complicated or straightforward. 

For instance, Python is a robust programming language allowing users to create a wide range of applications. Besides, it can support machine learning. Similarly, PHP is a popular language that powers Facebook. Besides, it comes with multiple powerful frameworks that can speed up the creation process. 

Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.