C is a general purpose programming language that is used for creating a variety of applications. This language was originally developed for writing operating systems. Unix kernel and all of its supporting tools and libraries are written in C language. Earlier C language had the reputation of being the language of OS, burt later on few programmers tried to write some general programs, and they came to the conclusion that the language can be used for general programming without any problems, and they started using it.

Since then, C language has continued to gain a lot of popularity among software programmers because of its flexibility and versatility. The language allows maximum control with minimal commands. The language is not only used for writing operating systems and kernels, but it is also used to programme microcontrollers. In addition, the memory management in C makes it even more useful due to the fact that in C, you can allocate and deallocate memory statically and dynamically.

Why C is important?

Let us discuss the importance of C language in detail The fist reason why C is considered as an important programming language is that it is a powerful language that includes a collection of in-built functions and operators that help in writing any complex program. C programs are very efficient because they contain a variety of data types and robust operators. The capabilities of an assembly language and high level language are combined together in the C compiler, which makes it the most suitable language for writing system software as well as commercial software.

C language is one of the most easiest language to learn. People in India and other countries prefer C language to begin their programming because it is easy to understand and has easy syntaxes. Moreover, C language has fixed number of keywords which are 32 long with the fixed set of control primitives like if, for, while, switch and do while. It also include a set of standard C functions which are commonly used while writing simple as well as complex programs. One of the main reasons why C has as always been a popular language is its portability. With slight modifications, you can run a C program in any other platform or computer system.

Another important thing is that C language supports structured and procedural programming paradigms, which makes it most suitable for structured programming. The structured programming wants the programmer to express a problem in terms of functions, which are also referred to as modules or blocks. These functions or modules collectively make the debugging and testing of program easy. In addition, a C program comprises of different functions that the C library supports. This means that you can extend the library by adding your own functions in the existing library for performing some specific tasks.

Where C is used

C language is often called as a middle level language because it includes features of both low level or machine languages and high-level programmer friendly languages. This language has features like it is a fast, flexible, portable and structured programming language having a rich library. Because of these features, C is also considered as a general-purpose programming language, and therefore has a vast application area in various domains. Following are some of the real-world applications of C.

1. Operating Systems

C language was originally developed to write UNIX operating system. Also, the execution time of the programs written in C language is equivalent to that of assembly language, which has made C language the most crucial part in the development of various operating systems. Unix-Kernel, Microsoft Windows utilities and operating system applications, and a big segment of Android operating system have all been written in C language.

2. Development of New Languages

The code written in C language is simple and execution efficient. As a result, the development of various languages has been influenced by C language. These languages are C++ (also known as C with classes), C#, Python, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Verilog, D, Limbo and C shell of Unix etc. Every language uses C language in variable capacity. For example, Python uses C for creating standard libraries, whereas the syntaxes and control structures of languages like C++, PHP and Perl are based on C.

3. Computation Platforms

The swift implementation of algorithms and data structures in C facilitates quicker computation in programs, thereby enabling the usage of C in those applications which require calculations of higher degree such as Mathematica, MATLAB etc.

4. Embedded Systems

C language is the preferred choice for writing the drivers of embedded systems along with embedded systems applications. The reason why this language is the most preferred one is its access to machine level hardware APIs, along with the presence of C compilers, dynamic memory allocation and deterministic use of resources.

5. Graphics and Games

When you talk about games, C language has been used for creating a variety of graphics and gaming applications like archery, bouncing ball, chess etc.

Future of C language

Although it seems that the position of C language has been affected because of the growing popularity of programming languages like Java and C++, however C has managed to cement its position in the programming world, and it is going to last longer than any other language. The major reason behind this is that all the syntaxes and features of C language have been inherited by C++. The only difference between C and C++ is that C++ has implemented an advanced programming paradigm that is popularly known as Object Oriented Programming. Therefore, if you are interested in learning C++, you have to first learn C language.

Some people have the view that due to the procedure-oriented nature of C language, one has to leave the procedure programming habits if he/she wants to learn object-oriented programming. In addition, the popularity of the GUI based C++ programming environments is more because of their simplicity. But there is a drawback associated with that, these environments consume a large amount of memory, resulting in reduced efficiency.

Moreover, the smaller programs that execute on smaller systems are made using complex libraries, which is not a suitable way. So, when it comes to writing device driver software or other utility applications, or embedded applications, the preferred choice is C language instead of C++. So, even if the new programming languages have affected the position of C language, it still remains in the race and will continue for a longer period of time.

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