List of programming languages by category

List of programming languages by category
Programming language

This is a list of programming languages grouped by category. Some languages are listed in multiple categories.


Array languages

Array programming (also known as vector or multidimensional languages) generalize operations on scalars to apply transparently to vectors, matrices, and higher dimensional arrays.

Aspect-oriented languages

Assembly languages

Assembly languages directly correspond to a machine language (see below) so machine code instructions appear in a form understandable by humans. Assembly languages lets programmers use symbolic addresses, which the assembler converts to absolute addresses. Most assemblers also support macros and symbolic constants.

Authoring languages

Command line interface languages

Command-line interface (CLI) languages are also called batch languages, or job control languages. Examples:

Compiled languages

These are languages typically processed by compilers, though theoretically any language can be compiled or interpreted. See also compiled language.

Concurrent languages

Message passing languages provide language constructs for concurrency. The predominant paradigm for concurrency in mainstream languages such as Java is shared memory concurrency based on monitors. Concurrent languages that make use of message passing have generally been inspired by CSP or the π-calculus, but have had little commercial success, except for Ada and Erlang. Ada is a multipurpose language and concurrent programming is only one option available.

Curly-bracket languages

The curly-bracket or curly-brace programming languages have a syntax that defines statement blocks using the curly bracket or brace characters { and }. A lot of these languages descend from or are strongly influenced by C. Examples of curly-bracket languages include:

Dataflow languages

Dataflow programming languages rely on a (usually visual) representation of the flow of data to specify the program. Frequently used for reacting to discrete events or for processing streams of data. Examples of dataflow languages include:

Data-oriented languages

Data-oriented languages provide powerful ways of searching and manipulating the relations that have been described as entity relationship tables which map one set of things into other sets. Examples of data-oriented languages include:

Data-structured languages

Data-structured languages are those where logic is structured in ways similar to their data. Such languages are generally well suited to reflection and introspection. There are three main types:

Assembly languages that statically link data inline with instructions can also be considered data-structured, in the most primitive way.

Declarative languages

Declarative languages describe a problem rather than defining a solution. Declarative programming stands in contrast to imperative programming via imperative programming languages, where serial orders (imperatives) are given to a computer. In addition to the examples given just below, all (pure) functional and logic-based programming languages are also declarative. In fact, "functional" and "logical" constitute the usual subcategories of the declarative category.

Embeddable languages

In source code

Source embeddable languages embed small pieces of executable code inside a piece of free-form text, often a web page.

Client-side embedded languages are limited by the capabilities of the browser or intended client. They aim to provide dynamism to web pages without the need to recontact the server.

Server-side embedded languages are much more flexible, since almost any language can be built into a server. The aim of having fragments of server-side code embedded in a web page is to generate additional markup dynamically; the code itself disappears when the page is served, to be replaced by its output.

Server side

The above examples are particulalrly dedicated to this purpose. A large number of other languages, such as Erlang, Scala, PERL, Python and Ruby can be adapted (for instance, by being made into Apache modules.

Client side

In object code

A wide variety of dynamic or scripting languages can be embedded in compiled executable code. Basically, object code for the language's interpreter needs to be linked into the executable. Source code fragments for the embedded language can then be passed to an evaluation function as strings. Application control languages can be implemented this way, if the source code is input by the user. Languages with small interpreters are preferred.

Esoteric languages

An esoteric programming language is a programming language designed as a test of the boundaries of computer programming language design, as a proof of concept, or as a joke.

Extension languages

Extension programming languages are languages embedded into another program and used to harness its features in extension scripts.

  • Ateji PX an extension of the Java language for parallelism
  • AutoLISP (specific to AutoCAD)
  • CAL
  • C/AL(C/SIDE)
  • DeScribe Macro Language (DML - specific to the DeScribe Word Processor)
  • Guile
  • Lua
  • OpenCL an extension of C and C++ to use the GPU and parallel extensions of the CPU.
  • OptimJ an extension of the Java programming language with language support for writing optimization models and powerful abstractions for bulk data processing.
  • Python (Maya and other 3-D animation packages)
  • REXX
  • Ruby (Google SketchUp)
  • S-Lang
  • SQL
  • Tcl
  • Vimscript
  • VBA
  • Windows PowerShell

Fourth-generation languages

Fourth-generation programming languages are high-level languages built around database systems. They are generally used in commercial environments.

Functional languages

Functional programming languages define programs and subroutines as mathematical functions. Many so-called functional languages are "impure", containing imperative features. Not surprisingly, many of these languages are tied to mathematical calculation tools. Functional languages include:



Interactive mode languages

Interactive mode languages act as a kind of shell: expressions or statements can be entered one at a time, and the result of their evaluation is seen immediately.

Interpreted languages

Interpreted languages are programming languages in which programs may be executed from source code form, by an interpreter. Theoretically, any language can be compiled or interpreted, so the term *interpreted language* generally refers to languages that are commonly interpreted rather than compiled.

Iterative languages

Iterative languages are built around or offering generators.

List-based languages – LISPs

List-based languages are a type of data-structured language that are based upon the list data structure.

Little languages

Little languages serve a specialized problem domain.

  • apply is a domain-specific language for image processing on parallel and conventional architectures
  • awk can serve as a prototyping language for C, because the syntax is similar
  • Comet is used to solve complex combinatorial optimization problems in areas such as resource allocation and scheduling.
  • SQL has only a few keywords, and not all the constructs needed for a full programming language.[citation needed] Many database management systems extend SQL with additional constructs as a stored procedure language.

Logic-based languages

Logic-based languages specify a set of attributes that a solution must have, rather than a set of steps to obtain a solution. Examples:

Machine languages

Machine languages are directly executable by a computer's CPU. They are typically formulated as bit patterns, usually represented in octal or hexadecimal. Each group of npatterns (often 1 or more bytes) causes the circuits in the CPU to execute one of the fundamental operations of the hardware. The activation of specific electrical inputs (e.g., CPU package pins for microprocessors), and logical settings for CPU state values, control the processor's computation. Individual machine languages are processor specific and are not portable. They are (essentially) always defined by the CPU developer, not by 3rd parties. The symbolic version, the processor's assembly language, is also defined by the developer, in most cases. Since processors come in families based on a shared architecture, the same basic assembly language style can often be used for more than one CPU. Each of the following CPUs served as the basis for a family of processors:

Macro languages

Textual substitution macro languages

Macro languages transform one source code file into another. A "macro" is eseentially a short piece of text that expands into a longer one, possibly with parameter substitution. They are often used to preprocess source code. Preprocessors can also supply facilities like file inclusion. Macro languages may be restricted to acting on specially labelled code regions (pre-fixed with a # in the case of the C preprocessor. Alternatively, they may not, but in this case it is still often undesirable to (for instance) expand a macro embeddeed in a string literal, so they still need a rudimentary awareness of syntax. That being the case, they are ofen still applicable to more than one language. Contrast with source-embeddable languages like PHP, which are fully featured.

  • cpp (the C preprocessor)
  • m4 (originally from AT&T, bundled with UNIX)

Application macro languages

Scripting languages such as Tcl and ECMAScript (ActionScript, ECMAScript for XML, JavaScript, JScript) have been embedded into applications. These are sometimes called "macro languages", although in a somewhat different sense to textual-substitution macros like m4.

Metaprogramming languages

Metaprogramming is writing of programs that write or manipulate other programs (or themselves) as their data or that do part of the work that is otherwise done at run time during compile time. In many cases, this allows programmers to get more done in the same amount of time as they would take to write all the code manually.

Multiparadigm languages

Multiparadigm languages support more than one programming paradigm. They allow a program to use more than one programming style. The goal is to allow programmers to use the best tool for a job, admitting that no one paradigm solves all problems in the easiest or most efficient way.

  • Ada (concurrent, distributed, generic (template metaprogramming), imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • ALF (functional, logic)
  • Alma-0 (constraint, imperative, logic)
  • APL (functional, imperative)
  • BETA (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • C++ (generic, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • C# (generic, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), functional, declarative)
  • ChucK (imperative, object-oriented, time-based, concurrent, on-the-fly)
  • Cobra (generic, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), functional, contractual)
  • Common Lisp (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), aspect-oriented (user may add further paradigms, e.g., logic))
  • Corn (concurrent, generic, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Curl (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), metaprogramming)
  • Curry (concurrent, functional, logic)
  • D (generic, imperative, functional, object-oriented (class-based), metaprogramming)
  • Delphi (generic, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), metaprogramming)
  • Dylan (functional, object-oriented (class-based))
  • ECMAScript (functional, imperative, object-oriented (prototype-based))
  • Eiffel (imperative, object-oriented (class-based), generic)
  • F# (functional, generic, object-oriented (class-based), language-oriented)
  • Fantom (functional, object-oriented (class-based))
  • FPr (function-level, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Harbour
  • Hop
  • J (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • LabVIEW (dataflow, visual)
  • Lasso (macro, object-oriented (prototype-based), procedural, scripting)
  • Lava (object-oriented (class-based), visual)
  • Leda (functional, imperative, logic, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Lua (functional, imperative, object-oriented (prototype-based))
  • Metaobject protocols (object-oriented (class-based, prototype-based))
  • Mythryl (functional, imperative)
  • Nemerle (functional, object-oriented (class-based), imperative, metaprogramming)
  • Objective Caml (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Oz (functional (evaluation: eager, lazy), logic, constraint, imperative, object-oriented (class-based), concurrent, distributed)
  • Object Pascal (imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Perl (imperative, functional (can't be purely functional), object-oriented, class-oriented, aspect-oriented (through modules))
  • PHP (imperative, object-oriented)
  • Pliant (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Poplog (functional, imperative, logic)
  • ppC++ (imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Prograph (dataflow, object-oriented (class-based), visual)
  • Python (functional, object-oriented (class-based), imperative)
  • R
  • REBOL (functional, imperative, object-oriented (prototype-based), metaprogramming (dialected))
  • ROOP (imperative, logic, object-oriented (class-based), rule-based)
  • Ruby (functional, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Scala (functional, object-oriented)
  • Seed7 (imperative, object-oriented, generic)
  • SISAL (concurrent, dataflow, functional)
  • Spreadsheets (functional, visual)
  • Tcl (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
    • Tea (functional, imperative, object-oriented (class-based))
  • Windows PowerShell (functional, imperative, pipeline, object-oriented (class-based))
  • XL (concept programming approach)

Numerical analysis

Non-English-based languages

Object-oriented class-based languages

Class-based Object-oriented programming languages support objects defined by their class. Class definitions include member data. Message passing is a key concept (if not the key concept) in Object-oriented languages.

Polymorphic functions parameterized by the class of some of their arguments are typically called methods. In languages with single dispatch, classes typically also include method definitions. In languages with multiple dispatch, methods are defined by generic functions. There are exceptions where single dispatch methods are generic functions (e.g. Bigloo's object system).

Multiple dispatch

Single dispatch

Object-oriented prototype-based languages

Prototype-based languages are object-oriented languages where the distinction between classes and instances has been removed:

Off-side rule languages

Off-side rule languages are those where blocks are formed, indicated, by their indentation.

Procedural languages

Procedural programming languages are based on the concept of the unit and scope (the data viewing range of an executable code statement). A procedural program is composed of one or more units or modules, either user coded or provided in a code library; each module is composed of one or more procedures, also called a function, routine, subroutine, or method, depending on the language. Examples of procedural languages include:

Reflective languages

Reflective languages let programs examine and possibly modify their high level structure at runtime. This is most common in high-level virtual machine programming languages like Smalltalk, and less common in lower-level programming languages like C. Languages and platforms supporting reflection:

Rule-based languages

Rule-based languages instantiate rules when activated by conditions in a set of data. Of all possible activations, some set is selected and the statements belonging to those rules execute. Rule-based languages include:

Scripting languages

"Scripting language" has two apparently different, but in fact similar meanings. In a traditional sense, scripting languages are designed to automate frequently used tasks that usually involve calling or passing commands to external programs. Many complex application programs provide built-in languages that let users automate tasks. Those that are interpretive are often called scripting languages.

Recently, many applications have built-in traditional scripting languages, such as Perl or Visual Basic, but there are quite a few "native" scripting languages still in use. Many scripting languages are compiled to bytecode and then this (usually) platform independent bytecode is run through a virtual machine (compare to Java).

Stack-based languages

Stack-based languages are a type of data-structured language that are based upon the stack data structure.

Synchronous languages

Synchronous programming languages are optimized for programming reactive systems, systems that are often interrupted and must respond quickly. Many such systems are also called realtime systems, and are found often in embedded uses. Examples:

Syntax handling languages

These languages assist with generating lexical analzyers and parsers for Context-free grammars.

  • Coco/R (EBNF with semantics)
  • GNU bison (FSF's version of Yacc)
  • GNU Flex (FSF's version of Lex)
  • lex (Lexical Analysis, from Bell Labs)
  • M4
  • yacc (yet another compiler compiler, from Bell Labs)
  • JavaCC
  • Rats!

Visual languages

Visual programming languages let users specify programs in a two-(or more)-dimensional way, instead of as one-dimensional text strings, via graphic layouts of various types.

Some dataflow programming languages are also visual languages.

Wirth languages

Computer scientist Niklaus Wirth designed and implemented several influential languages.

XML-based languages

These are languages based on or that operate on XML. Although the big-boy equivalents of Oracle/PostgreSQL/MSSQL don't yet exist for XML, there are languages to navigate through it and its more tree-oriented structure.

See also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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