C Language Introduction

C is a procedural programming language. It was initially developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973. It was mainly developed as a system programming language to write an operating system. The main features of C language include low-level access to memory, a simple set of keywords, and clean style, these features make C language suitable for system programmings like an operating system or compiler development.
Many later languages have borrowed syntax/features directly or indirectly from C language. Like syntax of Java, PHP, JavaScript, and many other languages are mainly based on C language. C++ is nearly a superset of C language (There are few programs that may compile in C, but not in C++).

C was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs, and used to re-implement the Unix operating system. It has since become one of the most widely used programming languages of all time, with C compilers from various vendors available for the majority of existing computer architectures and operating systems. C has been standardized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) since 1989 (see ANSI C) and subsequently by the International Organization for Standardization(ISO).

C is an imperative procedural language. It was designed to be compiled using a relatively straightforward compiler, to provide low-level access to memory, to provide language constructs that map efficiently to machine instructions, and to require minimal run-time support. Despite its low-level capabilities, the language was designed to encourage cross-platform programming. A standards-compliant and portably written C program can be compiled for a very wide variety of computer platforms and operating systems with few changes to its source code. The language has become available on a very wide range of platforms, from embedded microcontrollers to supercomputers.

Like most imperative languages in the ALGOL tradition, C has facilities for structured programming and allows lexical variable scope and recursion, while a static type system prevents many unintended operations. In C, all executable code is contained within subroutines, which are called “functions” (although not in the strict sense of functional programming). Function parameters are always passed by value. Pass-by-reference is simulated in C by explicitly passing pointer values. C program source text is free-format, using the semicolon as a statement terminator and curly braces for grouping blocks of statements.

Even after the publication of the 1989 ANSI standard, for many years K&R C has still considered the “lowest common denominator” to which C programmers restricted themselves when maximum portability was desired, since many older compilers were still in use, and because carefully written K&R C code can be legal Standard C as well.

In early versions of C, only functions that return types other than int must be declared if used before the function definition; functions used without prior declaration were presumed to return type int.

long some_function();

/* int */ other_function();

 

/* int */ calling_function()

{

    long test1;

    register /* int */ test2;

 

    test1 = some_function();

    if (test1 > 0)

          test2 = 0;

    else

          test2 = other_function();

    return test2;

}

 

Data types

The type system in C is static and weakly typed, which makes it similar to the type system of ALGOL descendants such as Pascal. There are built-in types for integers of various sizes, both signed and unsigned floating-point numbers, and enumerated types (enum). Integer type char is often used for single-byte characters. C99 added a Boolean data type. There are also derived types including arrays, pointers, records (struct), and untagged unions (union).

C is often used in low-level systems programming where escapes from the type system may be necessary. The compiler attempts to ensure type correctness of most expressions, but the programmer can override the checks in various ways, either by using a type cast to explicitly convert a value from one type to another or by using pointers or unions to reinterpret the underlying bits of a data object in some other way.

Some find C’s declaration syntax unintuitive, particularly for function pointers. (Ritchie’s idea was to declare identifiers in contexts resembling their use: “declaration reflects use”.)

C’s usual arithmetic conversions allow for efficient code to be generated, but can sometimes produce unexpected results. For example, a comparison of signed and unsigned integers of equal width requires a conversion of the signed value to unsigned. This can generate unexpected results if the signed value is negative.

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