Nursing Informatics

Programming Language / Nursing Informatics Reading & Sharing

All computer software is written in a specific programming language.

Programming languages have been divided into five separate generations based on how close they mimic human language.

  • The first generation is binary.
    • Binary is machine language made up of two symbols that signify off (0) and on (1)


  • Assembler language is the second generation
    • Assembler language uses English letters and symbols but relates them directly to binary.


  • Third generation programming languages: FORTRAN, COBOL, Java, and Visual BASIC
    • FORTRAN and COBOL are procedural languages that require the user to specify both the exact procedure to be carried out as well the data involved.
    • Java is used for internet content and Visual BASIC is a visual programming language


  • Fourth generation languages: allow users to choose procedures from a menu instead of having to specify them with code.
    • Structured query language (SQL) is a fourth generation programming language
      • uses syntax similar to human language to access, manipulate, and retrieve data from relational database management systems, which store data in tables
      • Language elements of SQL include the following:
        • Clauses: from, where, group by, having, and order by
        • Expressions: produce scales and tables
        • Predicates: three-valued logic (null, true, false) and Boolean truth values
        • Queries: require a SELECT  statement
        • Statements: includes the semicolon (to terminate a statement)
      • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization have adopted SQL


  • The fifth generation languages: is hoped that people will be able to speak directly to computers and have them carry out the verbal commands.


The five logical steps involved in computer programming:

  1. Problem definition
  2. Program desing
  3. Program preparation
  4. Program testing
  5. Program implementation

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