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The majority of software is written in high-level programming languages. They are easier and more efficient for programmers because they are closer to natural languages than machine languages.[2] High-level languages are translated into machine language using a compiler, an interpreter, or a combination of the two. Software may also be written in a low-level assembly language that has a strong correspondence to the computer's machine language instructions and is translated into machine language using an assembler.


An algorithm for what would have been the first piece of software was written by Ada Lovelace in the 19th century, for the planned Analytical Engine.[3] She created proofs to show how the engine would calculate Bernoulli numbers.[3] Because of the proofs and the algorithm, she is considered the first computer programmer.[4][5]

The first theory about software, prior to the creation of computers as we know them today, was proposed by Alan Turing in his 1936 essay, On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem (decision problem).[6] This eventually led to the creation of the academic fields of computer science and software engineering; both fields study software and its creation.[citation needed] Computer science is the theoretical study of computer and software (Turing's essay is an example of computer science), whereas software engineering is the application of engineering principles to development of software.[7]

In 2000, Fred Shapiro, a librarian at the Yale Law School, published a letter revealing that John Wilder Tukey's 1958 paper "The Teaching of Concrete Mathematics"[8][9] contained the earliest known usage of the term "software" found in a search of JSTOR's electronic archives, predating the Oxford English Dictionary's citation by two years.[10] This led many to credit Tukey with coining the term, particularly in obituaries published that same year,[11] although Tukey never claimed credit for any such coinage. In 1995, Paul Niquette claimed he had originally coined the term in October 1953, although he could not find any documents supporting his claim.[12] The earliest known publication of the term "software" in an engineering context was in August 1953 by Richard R. Carhart, in a Rand Corporation Research Memorandum.[13]

People who use modern general purpose computers (as opposed to embedded systems, analog computers and supercomputers) usually see three layers of software performing a variety of tasks: platform, application, and user software.[citation needed]

Software quality is very important, especially for commercial and system software. If software is faulty, it can delete a person's work, crash the computer and do other unexpected things. Faults and errors are called "bugs" which are often discovered during alpha and beta testing.[citation needed] Software is often also a victim to what is known as software aging, the progressive performance degradation resulting from a combination of unseen bugs.[citation needed]

The software's license gives the user the right to use the software in the licensed environment, and in the case of free software licenses, also grants other rights such as the right to make copies.[20]

Design and implementation of software vary depending on the complexity of the software. For instance, the design and creation of Microsoft Word took much more time than designing and developing Microsoft Notepad because the former has much more basic functionality.[citation needed]

Software is usually developed in integrated development environments (IDE) like Eclipse, IntelliJ and Microsoft Visual Studio that can simplify the process and compile the software.[citation needed] As noted in a different section, software is usually created on top of existing software and the application programming interface (API) that the underlying software provides like GTK+, JavaBeans or Swing.[citation needed] Libraries (APIs) can be categorized by their purpose. For instance, the Spring Framework is used for implementing enterprise applications, the Windows Forms library is used for designing graphical user interface (GUI) applications like Microsoft Word, and Windows Communication Foundation is used for designing web services.[citation needed] When a program is designed, it relies upon the API. For instance, a Microsoft Windows desktop application might call API functions in the .NET Windows Forms library like Form1.Close() and Form1.Show()[25] to close or open the application. Without these APIs, the programmer needs to write these functionalities entirely themselves. Companies like Oracle and Microsoft provide their own APIs so that many applications are written using their software libraries that usually have numerous APIs in them.[citation needed]

Many software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers work in computer systems design and related services, in manufacturing, or for software publishers. They often work in offices and on teams with other software developers or quality assurance analysts and testers.

About 162,900 openings for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Software developers create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. Software quality assurance analysts and testers design and execute software tests to identify problems and learn how the software works.

Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are involved in the entire process of creating a software program. Developers may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software so that they can identify the core functionality the user needs. Software developers also determine other requirements, such as security. They design the program and then work closely with programmers, who write computer code. However, some developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to programmers.

After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance. Quality assurance analysts and testers run manual and automated checks to look for errors and usability problems once the software is released and after any upgrades or maintenance.

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create databases or programs for use internally or online.

Systems software developers create the operating systems for the public or specifically for an organization. These operating systems keep computers functioning and control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including those in cell phones and cars. Often, systems software developers also build the interface that allows users to interact with the computer.

Developing software is usually a collaborative process. As a result, developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers work on teams with others who also contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Communication skills. These workers must be able to give clear instructions and explain problems that arise to other team members involved in development. They must also be able to explain to nontechnical users, such as customers, how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Creativity. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers must be innovative in their approaches to designing, identifying problems with, and improving computer software.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, programming, and testing successful software.

The median annual wage for software developers was $120,730 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $64,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $168,570.

The median annual wage for software quality assurance analysts and testers was $98,220 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,960, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $153,250.

Increased demand for software developers, software quality assurance analysts, and testers will stem from the continued expansion of software development for artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and other automation applications.

In response to concerns over threats to computer security, organizations are expected to increase investment in software that protects their electronic networks and infrastructure. This investment could result in an increased demand for developers to create security software and for quality assurance analysts and testers to create and execute software tests.

Software developers, software quality assurance analysts, and testers are likely to see new opportunities because of the increasing number of products that use software. For example, software systems continue to be built for consumer electronics and other products, including IoT-connected devices and electric vehicles.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers, at -and-information-technology/software-developers.htm (visited March 16, 2023). 041b061a72

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