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1 Overview

The advantages of programming in a high level language include abstraction and portability. Abstraction means programmers can describe algorithms in a ``high level'' notation that is independent of details about the machine that will execute the algorithm. Portability is a byproduct of abstraction that allows programs to be run on a wide variety of computers as long as there is a compiler that will translate them for each machine.

In most programming situations reality is close to the ideal. Compilers for many high level languages are very good at generating efficient and portable code for typical computer systems, so programmers are able to express algorithms in high level languages and expect them to run efficiently on almost any machine. There may be a few isolated places where a programmer who invests a lot of effort may be able to write a more efficient routine in assembly language (the native language of the machine), but it is hardly ever worth the effort to write an entire program in assembly language. Obviously when all or part of a program is written in assembler it is not as abstract, since assembly language is the language of the machine and not the language of the application, and it is no longer portable from one machine to another.