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Lucy Oleschuk
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Low, Medium, High Level: What Are the Types of Programming Languages, and How It Affects the Complexity of Their Learning

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If you're fresh to computer science, it's easy to get lost in the distinction between low-level, medium-level, and high-level programming languages. In this article, we'll describe the differences between each level and tell you how they influence the learning experience. Low, Medium, High Level: What Are the Types of Programming Languages, and How It Affects the Complexity of Their Learning - 1

Low-level programming languages

Low-level programming languages are the ones that provide little or no abstraction from a computer's hardware architecture. They are often described as "close to the hardware" languages designed to interact closely with the computer's hardware. Therefore, they are often specific to a particular computer architecture.

Advantages of low-level programming languages:

  • High efficiency as programs written in low-level languages are typically more efficient regarding execution speed and memory usage.
  • Direct hardware interaction — programmers control entirely hardware components, registers, and memory. Hence, programmers also have a high level of control over program behavior.
  • Small code size, which can be crucial in environments with limited storage.

Disadvantages of low-level programming languages:

  • Hard learning curve — low-level languages require a deep understanding of the hardware architecture, making learning rather challenging.
  • Time-consuming development — writing programs in low-level languages often requires more time and effort than in high-level languages.
  • Lack of flexibility. As mentioned, programs written in low-level languages are often specific to a particular architecture, making it difficult to transfer them to different platforms.
  • High chance of errors. Since low-level languages provide direct access to memory and hardware, a higher risk of programming errors can lead to system crashes.

Examples of low-level programming languages:

  • Machine code. This is the lowest level of programming language and consists of binary code that directly represents instructions executed by the CPU.
  • Assembly language. Assembly languages are specific to a particular CPU architecture and provide a symbolic representation of machine code instructions. For example, Intel processors require x86 Assembly.
  • C: While C was considered a high-level language a few decades ago, it now possesses low-level features like manual memory management and direct manipulation of hardware. It also lacks a sizeable runtime system and basically supports only scalar operations.
It's important to note that the line between low-level and high-level programming languages can be blurry, and some languages, like C, offer a balance of low-level features and high-level abstractions.

Medium-level programming languages

Medium-level programming languages, also called mid-level languages, strike a balance between the low-level control of hardware provided by assembly/machine code and the high-level abstractions. These languages provide a level of abstraction that makes them more user-friendly than low-level languages while allowing for reasonable control over hardware resources.

Advantages of medium-level programming languages:

  • Sufficient level of abstraction. Mid-level languages provide a higher abstraction level than low-level languages so that programmers can create more intuitive and readable code.
  • Increased portability. Programs written in mid-level languages are more portable than those written in low-level languages. Still, they may call for some platform-specific adjustments.
  • Productivity. Mid-level languages are more user-friendly, which can lead to increased developers' productivity.
  • Versatility. Mid-level languages are suitable for a wide range of apps.

Disadvantages of medium-level programming languages:

  • Steep learning curve. While mid-level programming languages are generally easier to learn than low-level ones, they may still be challenging, especially for beginners.
  • Low control. Mid-level languages don't typically provide the same control over hardware as low-level languages do.
  • Dependency on libraries. Medium-level languages often rely on libraries for specific functionalities.

Examples of medium-level programming languages:

  • Dialects of C that allow raw pointers. Technically, C++ can be considered as medium-level programming language as well.
  • The Wirth family of languages. Such languages as Pascal, Modula2, and Oberon.
Overall, medium-level languages offer a compromise between the efficiency and control of low-level languages and the ease of use of high-level languages.

High-level programming languages

High-level programming languages are designed to be as user-friendly as possible. They provide a high level of abstraction from the computer's hardware architecture and are characterized by their increased simplicity and readability. High-level languages allow developers to write programs using a syntax close to natural language, removing much of the hassle associated with low-level programming. They are particularly great for apps where development speed, maintainability, and ease of use are more critical than low-level control and performance optimizations.

Advantages of high-level programming languages:

  • Ease of learning and use. High-level languages often feature English-like syntax, making them easier for beginners to learn and use.
  • Enhanced productivity. No wonder programming in high-level languages is faster and more efficient than low-level/mid-level languages.
  • Extra portability. Programs written in high-level languages are often portable across different platforms with little or no modification.
  • Quick development. High-level languages often include features like dynamic typing, automatic memory management (garbage collection), and built-in libraries to facilitate the development process for programmers.
  • No complex operations. High-level languages lack tricky operations, such as memory management and hardware-specific details. This allows developers to focus on solving problems at a higher level.

Disadvantages of high-level programming languages:

  • Less сontrol over hardware. High-level programming languages abstract many hardware details and give programmers less control over the computer's resources.
  • High resource consumption. Applications written in high-level languages may consume many system resources regarding memory and processing power.
  • Dependency on libraries and frameworks. High-level languages often rely on libraries and frameworks for various functionalities.
Examples of high-level programming languages in active use today include JavaScript, Python, Java, Visual Basic, Perl, Ruby, C#, and many others.

How does the level of programming language influence the learning path?

The higher the language, the less tricky the learning path. As you might have already guessed, the programming language level directly impacts the complexity of learning. Low-level languages are the hardest to learn because of their proximity to machine architecture. Programmers must understand the computer's hardware details, memory management, and intricate instruction sets. This can be rather challenging for beginners. In their turn, medium-level languages strike a balance between low-level and high-level languages. While they provide some abstractions, they still require an understanding of memory management, pointers, and closer attention to details compared to high-level languages. High-level programming languages are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, which makes them the easiest to learn. They have an English-like syntax and provide a high level of abstraction. This lets developers focus on problem-solving rather than worrying about low-level implementation details. This makes them ideal for beginners.

What programming languages are on the rise right now?

Of course, the popularity and relevance of programming languages can shift over time. However, some languages remain popular and widely used for quite a long time. As of PYPL ranking of September 2023, the top 5 look as follows:
  1. Python
  2. Java
  3. JavaScript
  4. C#
  5. C/C++


Python has been a dominant force in recent years. It's known for its readability, versatility, and a vast ecosystem of libraries and frameworks. Python is used in web development, data science, machine learning, automation, and more. Its syntax is clear and concise, making it an excellent choice for beginners.


Java is a close runner-up to Python. It's a widely used, versatile language with a robust ecosystem. It's known for its portability (write once, run anywhere), making it suitable for various applications. Java is used in enterprise applications, Android app development, and large-scale systems. Its object-oriented nature and explicit syntax make it ideal for teaching fundamental programming concepts.


JavaScript is essential for web development. It's the primary language for building interactive and dynamic content on the web. With the rise of front-end frameworks like React and Vue.js, and the ability to use JavaScript on the server-side with Node.js, JavaScript has become even more versatile.

C# (C Sharp)

C# is a programming language developed by Microsoft, and it's a critical language for building applications on the .NET framework. It's used in Windows development, game development with Unity, and web development with ASP.NET. C# combines features of C++ and Java and is known for its simplicity and robustness.


Often referred to as the "mother of all languages," C is a foundational language that forms the basis for many others. Learning C provides a deep understanding of fundamental programming concepts like variables, data types, control structures, and memory management. C++ extends C features by introducing object-oriented programming (OOP) concepts. Studying C++ allows you to understand how to design and implement complex, modular, and reusable software systems.

Why is Java an excellent choice for beginners?

Java's syntax is clear and easy to read, which benefits beginners. It enforces good coding practices and encourages the development of clean, well-organized code. Moreover, Java is a purely object-oriented language, which means it can help newcomers grasp the concepts of classes, objects, inheritance, and polymorphism. And if you are stuck at some point, you can get ample resources for learning and troubleshooting thanks to Java's large community. Numerous tutorials, forums, and documentation are available to support beginners in their learning journey. When it comes to platform independence, Java is a winner too. Java's "write once, run anywhere" philosophy means that Java programs can run on any device with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This feature makes Java versatile and applicable in various environments. Java is also used in various domains, including web development (with frameworks like Spring), enterprise applications, Android app development, AI and ML, and many more. Learning Java opens up numerous opportunities for beginners entering the field.


In conclusion, choosing a programming language depends on various factors, including individual goals, project interests, and industry demands. However, Java is an excellent choice for beginners due to its readability, object-oriented nature, platform independence, versatility, and the wealth of job opportunities in the market. If you decide to learn Java, CodeGym can make your learning experience engaging and enjoyable. The CodeGym course provides hands-on coding exercises, challenges, a structured curriculum, mentor support, and interactive lessons explicitly tailored for Java learners. Remember, the key to success in programming is not just about choosing the correct language but also about consistent practice, problem-solving, and a supportive learning environment. Exactly what CodeGym offers!