Programming languages do one very simple thing: they allow you to write programs that tell the computer what to do. You can tell a computer to read a value from the keyboard, add two numbers, save a result in a file on the hard disk, or draw a smiley face on the screen.

No matter what programming language you use, the underlying commands that the computer can execute are exactly the same. Whether you use Java, C#, Microsoft Visual Basic, COBOL, LISP, or any other language, you can make the computer perform roughly the same tasks. Two languages may have very different syntaxes, and some languages make some tasks easier than others, but the fundamental operations they can perform are the same. All these languages can carry out numeric ...

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