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Assembly Language

2005-06-30

Category: crafts

My summer class is finally over. It was Assembly Language Programming. The final exam took me about twenty minutes to complete. I am such a geek.

For those who don?t know, assembly language is a sort of human recognizable version of the machine language. The machine does things in combinations of one and zeros. In assembly, we use readable symbols to represent those low-level one-zero patterns. Then we put our symbols together to make programs.

A program called an assembler essentially goes through our assembly code and converts it into the one and zeros. This can be done by hand, but humans aren?t as precise as the computer can be and we are prone to make mistakes when translating that many zeros and ones.

Assembly language programs have benefits over programs in other languages. Assembly programs tend to be smaller and faster, i.e.: more efficient. They also give direct control over the computer?s hardware. The trade off is that the programs can be tedious to write and it is easy to tell the computer to do something self-destructive purely by accident.

It is important to learn about assembly language for several reasons. For starters, it gives you a better understanding of what your computer is really doing. If you can get a grip on this, all computers will make more sense to you. That means you have a better chance of making the computer do what you want.

Another reason that assembly language is so important is that some high paying programming jobs rely on it. If you want to program for machinery, you have to do it in assembly rather often. Writing device drivers (the little programs that tell things like Microsoft Windows how to use your CD player, etcetera) is best done in assembly. If you write operating systems, much of that is best done in assembly. Programming small devices, such as cell phones, can benefit from assembly language programming.

If you ever get a chance, read an introductory book about assembly language. Assemblers are available for a great number of different processors, including the one in your PC. Doing this little bit of reading will take the voodoo out of computers and put you in control.


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