A computer program (also a software program, or just a program) is a sequence of instructions written to perform a specified task for a computer. A computer requires programs to function, typically executing the program's instructions in a central processor. The program has an executable form that the computer can use directly to execute the instructions. The same program in its human-readable source code form, from which executable programs are derived (e.g., compiled), enables a programmer to study and develop its algorithms.
Computer source code is often written by computer programmers. Source code is written in a programming language that usually follows one of two main paradigms: imperative or declarative programming. Source code may be converted into an executable file (sometimes called an executable program or a binary) by a compiler and later executed by a central processing unit. Alternatively, computer programs may be executed with the aid of an interpreter, or may be embedded directly into hardware.
Computer programs may be categorized along functional lines: system software (such as Windows or Linux and application software (such as Prime95, games, or word processors). Two or more computer programs may run simultaneously on one computer, a process known as multitasking.
- Knuth, Donald E., The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1, 3rd Edition, 1997, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-89683-4
- Knuth, Donald E., The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2, 3rd Edition, 1997, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-89684-2
- Knuth, Donald E., The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 3, 3rd Edition, 1997, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-89685-0