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The process of writing instructions for a computer to perform

What is Programming?

Programming is the process of writing instructions for a computer to perform. It is similar to a recipe for humans. A recipe contains a list of actions for humans to create a meal, and programs are actions for computers to follow. Programming is now a handy skill for many career paths, including finance.


Programming Illustration



Quick Summary Points

  • Programming is the process of writing instructions for a computer to follow.
  • Programming can be categorized into low-level and high-level, depending on whether it can be understood by a computer.
  • The main programming languages include Python, C++, Java, SQL, and JavaScript.


Programming vs. Coding

While the words coding and programming are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two terms. Programming is a broad term for creating instructions for a computer. Coding is a more specific part of programming. A programmer thinks of the big picture. They determine the problem and determine actions to solve it. The programmer will also think about how different parts of logic or code will fit together.

On the other hand, a coder is only responsible for transforming the human logic into words and numbers a machine can understand. Another way to interpret the difference is that a program is a set of codes that will run. However, a simple one-line statement is a code and not a program.


What are Low-level and High-level Programming Languages?

Programming languages are put into two broad categories, which are low level and high level. Low-level languages are understood by computers and consist of binary language and assembly language. Binary language only uses 0’s and 1’s, which can be difficult to write for programmers. That is why programmers use assembly language, which includes more English-like words.

High-level programming languages are mostly English, and machines cannot understand them. High-level languages include C, C++, and Java. Since the language consists of English, it can be more easily written and read. However, it needs to be converted by a compiler or interpreter so machines can understand it. The interpreter or compiler will change the high-level language into low-level for machines.


What are the Programming Languages?

Programming languages are like trends and often go in and out of practice. For example, Java and C++ used to be in decline but are now popular again.



JavaScript is for front-end web development. It makes web development easier and attractive. Also, it can make web pages more interactive. For example, games, mobile apps, and web apps use JavaScript to enhance user experience.



Python is one of the most intuitive and elegant programming languages. It is popular for starters, as it is easier to understand than other languages. Since it is similar to the English language, it is easy to learn. Python is popular for web development, data science, and machine learning. As machine learning rises in popularity, so does Python. To learn more, check out CFI’s Machine Learning – Python Fundamentals Course.


CFI Python Fundamentals Course for Finance



Java’s motto is “write once, run everywhere.”  It refers to Java’s ability to run on multiple platforms. For example, a code written on a PC will also run on mobile phones and routers. No adjustments are necessary, which saves programmers a lot of time. Areas that use Java include e-commerce websites, Android apps, and electronic trading systems.



SQL stands for Structured Query Language. This programming language operates databases, specifically in relation to storing, retrieving, and manipulating data. It is particularly helpful to business analysts, marketers, and any profession that deals with lots of data. For example, a marketing company can use SQL to analyze consumer data. Doing so can help them identify seasonal variations in demand or consumption patterns.



C++ is an older programming language, created in 1979. It is mainly used in systems programming and embedded systems. Systems programming is the process of writing a program that enables computer hardware to interface with the programmer and user. The second main use of C++ is in embedded systems, which are a combination of hardware and software, to complete a task.

Examples of embedded systems are gaming devices, printers, and dishwashers. When a user inputs instructions into a dishwasher, the machine saves the inputs and then follows the instructions, such as boil water for one hour.


What is the Use of Programming in Finance?

In finance, programming is useful in a variety of situations. These situations include pricing derivatives, setting up electronic trading systems, and managing systems. Banks such as Credit Suisse and Barclays are most interested in Java and Python skills. C++ is not as popular now but is still used. Since banks still operate legacy systems built on C++, programmers that understand that programming language still carry an advantage.

Python, in particular, is important for pricing, risk management, and trade management platforms. Since these roles are related to asset management and pricing, it is important at investment banks and hedge funds. Python can also help create analytic tools and models. It can modify Excel spreadsheets and automate tasks for greater efficiency. Thus, it is helpful to create financial models using Python.

Java is another popular language in the banking industry, mainly due to its secured design. Since banks handle sensitive and confidential information, it is essential to install a secure system. Java is also portable and compatible, so if a change was made, it would still run on new versions of Java. Overall, Java is a reliable system that can be easily improved or scaled.


Additional Resources

Thank you for reading CFI’s article on Programming and its uses in the finance industry. CFI offers the Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, we recommend these CFI resources:

  • Algorithms 
  • Excel VBA
  • Quants
  • London International Financial Futures & Options Exchange

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