Procedural Programming

Procedural Programming

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When you are brand new to programming, programming paradigms are not of much importance. But as you go up the stairs and start creating complex programs and software, it is vital to understand which programming paradigm is best suited for your project. Before we begin, it is important to know what exactly a paradigm is. According to many cited definitions, a paradigm is ‘a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline’.

This definition is spot on, as what differentiates the paradigm is the different way of viewing reality for the community. Paradigms matter as they often travel along with a specific culture of writing programs and thinking about them. In this article, we will discuss the major programming paradigms, with a special focus on the Procedural Programming paradigm.

What is Procedural Programming?

Procedural Programming may be the first programming paradigm that a new developer will learn. Fundamentally, the procedural code is the one that directly instructs a device on how to finish a task in logical steps. This paradigm uses a linear top-down approach and treats data and procedures as two different entities. Based on the concept of a procedure call, Procedural Programming divides the program into procedures, which are also known as routines or functions, simply containing a series of steps to be carried out.

Simply put, Procedural Programming involves writing down a list of instructions to tell the computer what it should do step-by-step to finish the task at hand.

Key Features of Procedural Programming

The key features of procedural programming are given below:

  • Predefined functions: A predefined function is typically an instruction identified by a name. Usually, the predefined functions are built into higher level programming languages, but they are derived from the library or the registry, rather than the program. One example of a pre-defined function is ‘charAt()’, which searches for a character position in a string.
  • Local Variable: A local variable is a variable that is declared in the main structure of a method and is limited to the local scope it is given. The local variable can only be used in the method it is defined in, and if it were to be used outside the defined method, the code will cease to work.
  • Global Variable: A global variable is a variable which is declared outside every other function defined in the code. Due to this, global variables can be used in all functions, unlike a local variable.
  • Modularity: Modularity is when two dissimilar systems have two different tasks at hand but are grouped together to conclude a larger task first. Every group of systems then would have its own tasks finished one after the other until all tasks are complete.
  • Parameter Passing: Parameter Passing is a mechanism used to pass parameters to functions, subroutines or procedures. Parameter Passing can be done through ‘pass by value’, ‘pass by reference’, ‘pass by result’, ‘pass by value-result’ and ‘pass by the name’.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Procedural Programming

The Procedural Programming comes with its own set of pros and cons, some of which are mentioned below.

Advantages

  • Procedural Programming is excellent for general purpose programming
  • The coded simplicity along with ease of implementation of compilers and interpreters
  • A large variety of books and online course material available on tested algorithms, making it easier to learn along the way
  • The source code is portable, therefore, it can be used to target a different CPU as well
  • The code can be reused in different parts of the program, without the need to copy it
  • Through Procedural Programming technique, the memory requirement also slashes
  • The program flow can be tracked easily

Disadvantages

  • The program code is harder to write when Procedural Programming is employed
  • The Procedural code is often not reusable, which may pose the need to recreate the code if is needed to use in another application
  • Difficult to relate with real-world objects
  • The importance is given to the operation rather than the data, which might pose issues in some data-sensitive cases
  • The data is exposed to the whole program, making it not so much security friendly

There are different types of programming paradigm as we mentioned before, which are nothing but a style of programming. It is important to understand that the paradigm does not cater to a specific language but to the way the program is written. Below is a comparison between Procedural Programming and Object Oriented Programming.

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

OOP is an approach to programming which recognizes life as we know it as a collection of objects, which work in tandem with each other to solve a particular problem at hand. The primary thing to know about OOP is encapsulation, which is the idea that each object which holds the program is self-sustainable, which means that all the components that make up the object are within the object itself. Now since each module within this paradigm is self-sustainable, objects can be taken from one program and used to resolve another problem at hand with little or no alterations.

Advantages

  • Due to modularity and encapsulation, OOP offers ease of management
  • OOP mimics the real world, making it easier to understand
  • Since objects are whole within themselves, they are reusable in other programs

Disadvantages

  • Object-Oriented programs tend to be slower and use up a high amount of memory
  • Over-generalization
  • Programs built using this paradigm may take longer to be created

Procedural Programming vs Object Oriented Programming

On the other hand, Procedural Programming, unlike OOP, sheds focus on the steps which will be performed to complete a task, rather than the interaction between the objects. The tasks are broken down into subroutines, variables and data structures. At any point in time, these procedures can be called within the program execution.

Procedural ProgrammingObject-Oriented Programming
Uses immutable dataUses mutable data
Follows the declarative programming modelFollows the imperative programming model
Extends support to parallel programmingNot suitable for parallel programming
The execution order of statements is not the primary focusThe execution order of statements is very important
Flow control is performed using function callsFlow control is performed through conditional statements and loops
Uses recursion concept to iterate collective dataUses loop concept to iterate collection data
No such side-effects of its functions The method can have certain side-effects
The focus in Procedural Programming is on ‘What You are Doing’The focus in Object Oriented Programming is on ‘How You are Doing It’

Another highly used programming paradigm is Functional Programming. Functional Programming is way differs from both Procedural Programming and Object Oriented Programming as it makes use of mathematical functions. Through this, the operations are performed only on the basis of the inputs that are entered, and they do not rely on temporary or hidden variables.

Advantages

  • Functional Programming offers a protected environment
  • While many other languages require a substantial amount of information in order to perform operations properly, function programming eliminates the need of large amount of code needed to define states
  • Since this paradigm is only dependent on the input arguments, there are no side-effects

Disadvantages

  • Using Functional programming solely in commercial software development is not recommended and done
  • It requires a large amount of memory and time
  • It can prove to be less efficient than other paradigms

Conclusion

As we stated throughout this article, Procedural Programming is more of what you are doing then how you are doing it. It is the standard approach used in many computer languages such as C, Pascal and BASIC. While there is no perfect programming paradigm, it is important to understand that the correct paradigm will always depend on the type of language you use and the program you wish to create. It is advised that for maximum results and a strong portfolio, one should have proficiency in all three major programming paradigms. The best way to try to get better at programming paradigms is to try, and Hackr can help you with that.

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