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What is Programming?

Programming is the process of creating a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a task. We can program using a variety of computer programming languages, such as JavaScript, Python, and C++.  Those programs can be applied to problems like controlling Mars rovers, to processing medical data, to producing special effects in movies. Learning JavaScript on Khan Academy is a great starting point because the basic concepts apply across different programming languages!

Created by Pamela Fox.

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Video transcript

Hi, welcome to programming! If you've never learned to program before, you might be wondering what programming actually is. Well, when we write a program, we're giving the computer a series of commands that kind of look like a weird form of English. You can think of a computer as a very obedient dog, listening to your every command, and doing whatever you tell it to do. So what's so cool about programming? Well, it really depends on what you think is cool. Because as it turns out, you can use programming for almost everything. Programs control robots that can take care of patients, and my favorite, robots that can roam around Mars and look for water on the surface. Programs help self-driving cars know which way to turn-- which is pretty important! Programs help doctors cure diseases by processing huge amounts of medical data. Programs can be really fun games, like Doodle Jump, Angry Birds, Minecraft. Programs make it possible for Pixar to put out their awesome 3-D animated movies, and for movies like Harry Potter to have such cool special effects. What's your favorite movie? I bet that a computer helped make it somehow. Programs are behind the websites and the apps that you use every day, all the time, like Google Maps, and Wikipedia, and YouTube, and of course, where you are now, Khan Academy. Here, on Khan Academy, you'll learn how to write JavaScript programs to make drawings, animations, and games. And that will be a great start towards creating whatever you're imagining in your head. I know, it might be hard to see how a drawing program relates to programs for robots, or curing diseases. But believe it or not, the same basic concepts are used by pretty much every programmer in every program. Once you learn to program JavaScript, you'll be able to learn other programming languages much more easily. Now you just gotta keep going!