A Programming Language

What Does A Programming Language Mean?

A Programming Language (APL) was first described in a 1962 book of the same name by Kenneth E. Iverson. APL is an interactive and interpreted third-generation language (3GL) oriented toward the rigorous expression of mathematical notations by a computer in an interpretive way. APL has a concise representation of arrays and operators, which are manipulated them while allowing for the implementation of abstract problem solving. It does this from diverse domains and expresses algorithms independent of computing platform specifics.


Today, APL is provided in integrated development environments (IDE) by a number of commercial and non-commercial vendors.

Before coming to be known as APL, the language was simply known as Iverson’s Language.

Techopedia Explains A Programming Language

APL is commonly used in a diverse set of problem domains, such as mathematics, scientific research, visualization, engineering, robotics and actuarial science. The language is written with the unique and non-standard APL character set. Iverson claimed that using this set produces a notation ability that surpasses a regular character set. Accordingly, APL’s power relies on the denotation of common array operators, functions and their combinations by a single dedicated symbol (primitive). The result is a language that is not easy to read. However, APL has a small yet ardent user base in finance, insurance and mathematical applications.

APL programs are more likely to be interpreted in the APL workspace rather than compiled. Unlike other languages evaluated from top to bottom, APL expressions are evaluated from right to left. Originally, APL did not contain control structures. However, modern implementations generally include a comprehensive set of control structures that allow for data separation and program flow control.

APL has been standardized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

APL programs are best written by using a special keyboard with APL-specific symbolic notation or remapping a general keyboard and using APL language decals to indicate APL functions.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…