A computer program is a set of instructions that tells the computer what to do.

I have checked on the English dictionary the meaning of instruction in programming but I think it is wrong.

Here is the link to the English dictionary with the word instruction. https://www.google.com/amp/s/dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/english/instruction

Using the link can someone tell me what instructions means using the link given.

  • Why do you think the meaning is wrong? May 20 '19 at 15:56
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    In the given link scroll down the Business English section and look at the third definition - [IT] a piece of information that tells a computer how to do something . Why do you think it's wrong? May 20 '19 at 15:59
  • It has a very specific meaning in computing, but it's the same general concept. One thing (a program) telling another thing (a computer) what to do. In your link (first example), it is one thing (the policeman's boss or a set of rules) telling another thing (the policeman) what to do. For specific terms, you could try a specific dictionary.
    – Pam
    May 20 '19 at 16:00
  • I think it is because of the context. That is why I think the meaning is wrong? Please use the link given and tell me the meaning of the word instruction in programming.
    May 20 '19 at 16:00
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    The Oxford Dictionaries entry for instruction has "1.2 Computing A code in a program which defines and carries out an operation." May 20 '19 at 16:25

A computer instruction is an action that a computer already knows how to perform, and that is not like the sense we use for the word "instruction" otherwise. You can't tell a computer about one of its instructions by instructing it. So I agree that using "instruction" for the elementary actions of a computer is confusing.

However, that is the convention for interpreting "computer instruction", so we just have to construct dictionaries with a special clause for this separate sense of "instruction" used for interpreting "computer instruction".

  • I don't think there is much difference. If the person or the computer does not understand the instruction, it must be presented as a set of component instructions which are understood. Although a person can go away and learn what an unknown instruction means, computers are moving that way too, although there is a lowest level of instruction which it is impossible to go beyond. May 20 '19 at 17:19

An instruction for programming is a line or lines of code to be executed by the computer. An example for computer instructions given by professors is "How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich". You must give the computer explicit instructions such as 'Lift up the jar of peanut butter.', 'Place your hand, palm down on the lid, grasp it and turn clockwise.." You get the idea. Some instructions are also in a much lower level language closer to the binary '10110'.

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