Difference between High-Level Language and Low-Level Language

Difference between High-Level Language and Low-Level Language

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Chanchal
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 17:12 IST

The key difference between high-level and low-level languages is their level of abstraction. High-level languages are more human-readable and abstracted from hardware, making them easier to program but less efficient, while low-level languages are closer to machine code, offering more control and efficiency but are harder to program.

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Programming languages come in different shapes and sizes, each designed to serve a specific purpose. Two of the most fundamental types of programming languages are high-level and low-level. While they share some similarities, they are vastly different in their design and functionality. High-level languages are designed to be closer to human language and more abstracted from the computer’s hardware. In contrast, low-level languages are designed to be closer to machine language and hardware. Let’s understand the difference between high-level language and low-level language.

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Table of Content

Comparative Table of Differences

  High-Level Language Low-Level Language
Abstraction Level High-level languages are more abstracted from the computer’s hardware and closer to human language. Low-level languages are closer to the machine language and hardware.
Difficulty Level Easy to use Hard to use
Development Time High-level languages allow for faster development time since they require less coding and debugging. Low-level languages require more coding and debugging, which increases development time.
Memory use More Less
Code Readability High-level languages have a more natural and readable syntax, which makes it easier for programmers to read and understand the code. Low-level languages have a more cryptic syntax that is difficult to read and understand.
Portability High-level languages are more portable across different hardware and software platforms. Low-level languages are more hardware-dependent.
Application Area High-level languages are often used for software development, web development, and database management,  Low-level languages are typically used for system programming, device driver development, and embedded systems.
Examples High-level languages are Python, C++, C, C#, Visual Basic, and JavaScript. Low-level languages are Machine language and Assembly language.
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What is High-Level Language?

A high-level language is a programming language that allows developers to code in a more user-friendly programming context and is mostly independent of the computer’s hardware architecture. It refers to the high level of abstraction from machine learning. High-level language deals with arrays, variables, objects, boolean expressions or arithmetic, loops and threads, locks, subroutines, functions and other abstract computer science concepts focusing on usability over optimal program efficiency. 

This language allows programmers to detach and separate from the machine. Memory addressing and register usage are less of a concern than the underlying programming logic. While developing a program, a high-level language does not need to address hardware constraints. However, programmers must translate every computer program into machine language before they execute it. Examples of high-level languages are BASIC, C#, Java, etc.

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What is Low-Level Language?

A low-level language is a programming language with little or no abstraction from a computer’s instruction set architecture. This language refers to the machine code or assembly language. This language is considered close to hardware because of the low abstraction between the language and the machine language. Because of their optimization for a certain type of system architecture, programs written in low-level languages are relatively non-portable. 

There is no need for a compiler or interpreter to convert low-level languages into machine code. A small memory footprint in low-level language allows the quick running of programs. The major focus of this language is to utilize high-level languages such as PHP, C#, Swift, and Assembly language, and machine language are two examples of low-level programming. Build software programs that operate, manage, and modify a computer’s hardware and instructions set architecture.

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Key Differences: High-Level Language and Low-Level Language

  • Low-level languages are simple but difficult to use because of various technical details that the programmer must remember.
  • High-level languages manage memory automatically, while low-level languages require manual memory management.
  • High-level languages often support multiple programming paradigms, such as object-oriented, functional, and procedural. Low-level languages typically only support procedural programming.
  • Low-level languages are faster and more efficient than high-level languages since they directly access the computer’s hardware.
  • Low-level languages are easier for beginners to learn and use since they require less knowledge of hardware and low-level programming concepts. Low-level languages require a deep understanding of hardware and low-level programming concepts, making learning more challenging.
  • High-level languages are less error-prone than low-level languages since they provide built-in error-checking and debugging tools. Low-level languages require the programmer to perform more manual error checking and debugging.
  • High-level languages use more memory and could be more efficient. Conversely, low-level languages can run more efficiently due to a small memory footprint. 
About the Author
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Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content

Chanchal is a creative and enthusiastic content creator who enjoys writing research-driven, audience-specific and engaging content. Her curiosity for learning and exploring makes her a suitable writer for a variety ... Read Full Bio