WHAT IS A PROGRAM?
program is a set of directions, a
recipe, that is used to provide an answer to some problem. It usually
of a set of instructions to be performed or carried out in a certain
starts with the given data and parameters as the ingredients, and ends
a set of answers as the cake. And, as with ordinary cakes, if you make
mistake in your program, you will end up with something else -- perhaps
Any program must fulfill two requirements before it can even be carried
The first is that it must be presented in a language that is understood
"computer." If the program is a set of instructions for solving
linear equations, and the "computer" is a person, the program will be
presented in some combination of mathematical notation and English. If
person solving the equations is a Frenchman, the program must be in
the "computer" is a high speed digital computer, the program must be
presented in a language the computer can understand.
The second requirement for all programs is that they must be completely
precisely stated. This requirement is crucial when dealing with a
computer, which has no ability to infer what you meant -- it can act
what you actually present to it.
We are of course talking about programs that provide numerical answers
numerical problems. To present a program in the English language, while
the programmer, poses great difficulties for the computer because
any other spoken language, is rich with ambiguities and redundancies,
qualities which make poetry possible but computing impossible. Indeed,
present your program in a language that resembles ordinary mathematical
notation, which has a simple vocabulary and grammar, and which permits
complete and precise specification of your program. The language that
use is BASIC (Beginner's All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) which
is at the
same time precise, simple, and easy to understand.
Your first introduction to the BASIC language will be through an
you will learn how to use the Dartmouth Time Sharing System to execute
programs. Finally, you will study the language in more detail with
its rules of grammar and on examples that show the application of
a wide variety of problems.