Procedural Programming: Definition, Benefits, Comparison with Other Paradigms

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There are so many programming paradigms, and obviously, not all of them are popular. There are only a few, like object-oriented, functional, and procedural programming paradigms that see a wide adoption rate.

No matter whether you want to work in web app development or develop software, you need to choose a programming language. All programming languages follow several programming paradigms to facilitate the development of programs. Being one of the most popular programming paradigms, there are many popular programming languages that make use of the procedural programming paradigm.

Before moving on to discuss procedural programming (PP), it’s important to understand what exactly is a programming paradigm. So, here we go!

What is a Programming Paradigm?

A programming paradigm is simply the approach in which a programming language tries to solve a real-world problem. In other terms, it is a way to categorize programming languages. Different programming paradigms correspond to different features. A programming paradigm defines the way a programming language works.

Usually, a programming language follows several programming paradigms. For example, Python follows object-oriented, procedural, and functional programming paradigms. On the other hand, JavaScript follows functional, imperative, and object-oriented programming. Following are some of the most popular programming paradigms:

  1. Functional programming – Focuses on creating functions, i.e., modularizing the code.
  2. Functional reactive programming (FRP) – It is a programming paradigm for reactive programming that extends on the concepts of functional programming.
  3. Declarative programming – This programming paradigm focuses on expressing the logic of computation without describing its control flow.
  4. Logic programming – Most based on formal logic, logic programming focuses on writing sentences in some logical form.
  5. Metaprogramming – It helps in writing programs that can treat other programs as their data. Such programs can analyze, read, and generate other programs.
  6. Object-oriented programming (OOP)
  7. Procedural or imperative programming (PP)
  8. Quantum programming
  9. Reactive programming
  10. Structured programming

In this article, we will focus only on the PP paradigm. It is also known as the imperative programming paradigm.

What is Procedural Programming?

A derivative of structured programming, procedural programming aims to enhance the clarity, quality, and development time of a computer program. It is also known as imperative programming. At the heart of the PP paradigm, is the concept of procedural call.

What is Procedure in Programming?

Procedure calls are also known as functions, routines, and subroutines. Like structured programming, this paradigm focuses on specifying the steps a program needs to undergo to reach the desired state. This is unlike functional programming that focuses on evaluating mathematical functions while avoiding state and mutable data.

In the procedural programming paradigm, the program execution flows in a linear direction according to some logical steps. It follows the top to bottom approach, which means the code that is written first is executed first depending on certain conditions that are decided by procedure calls.

Pros and Cons of Procedural Programming

Pros

  • Adopted by many general-purpose programming languages.
  • Enhances the reusability of the code.
  • Makes the Implementation of algorithms easy.
  • Simplifies the code and makes it easy to understand.
  • Tracking the program flow is easy as the same flow linearly.

Cons

  • Data is vulnerable.
  • Not much practical for solving real-world problems.
  • Programs created using this programming paradigm are complex.

Procedural Programming vs. The Rest

In this section, we will pitch the procedural programming paradigm with the other popular programming paradigms, starting with object-oriented programming:

Procedural Programming vs. Object-oriented Programming

It is common among developers and programmers to compare PP and OOP (object-oriented programming) since both are among the most popular and widely-used programming paradigms.

A striking similarity among the two programming paradigms is that both deal with data using modules. Therefore, functions in PP are similar to methods in OOP.

However, PP treats modules and procedures that operate on data as separate entities, while in OOP, methods that operate on the data of an object are considered the same. This is the main thing to notice in the debate surrounding object-oriented programming vs procedural programming.

Some popular examples of object-oriented programming languages are C++, Java, Objective-C, Python, and Ruby. Solidity, which is among the best programming languages for cryptocurrency, also follows the object-oriented paradigm.

Procedural Programming vs. Functional Programming

Clojure, Erlang, Haskell, Simplicity, and Lisp are some popular examples of functional programming languages. Even Python, which follows the procedural programming paradigm, also is a functional programming language.

Unlike PP that focuses on iteration and defining detailed instructions, functional programming treats computations as mathematical functions. First-class functions, lazy evaluation, modularity, and recursive function calls are some of the features of functional programming.

Procedural Programming vs. Reactive Programming

Reactive programming is a type of declarative programming that focuses on asynchronous programming logic for handling real-time updates. It is usually concerned with data streams and the propagation of change. Elm, Java reactive programming, and ReactiveX are examples of reactive programming.

Features of Procedural Programming

Procedural programming has certain features that includes:

  • It follows a top-down approach.
  • The entire program is composed of functions, where each function performs a specific task.
  • Programs are highly modular.

Popular Programming Languages that Follows PP Paradigm

A programming language follows more than one programming paradigm. Here is a list of some of the programming languages that follow the PP paradigm:

  • Fortran
  • Algol
  • C
  • C++
  • Cobol
  • Pascal
  • Python

Conclusion

Procedural programming gets its name due to the concept of procedural calls. Like other programming paradigms, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, take note of them and compare them with your requirements to know whether the popular programming paradigm works out for you or not.

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