Browse Definitions:
Definition

machine code (machine language)

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco, Marianne Doig

Machine code, also known as machine language, is the elemental language of computers, comprising a long sequence of binary digital zeros and ones (bits). 

Ultimately, the output of any programming language analysis and processing emerges in the form of machine code. After you write a program, your source language statements are compiled or (in the case of assembler language) put together into machine code that is stored as an executable file until someone tells the computer's OS (operating system) to run it. In personal computer OSs, these files typically have the suffix ".exe."

Each processor has its own specific machine language, and it  reads and handles a certain number of bits at a time. Because it is designed to know how many bits (and which bits) tell it what operation to do, the processor can look at the correct sequence of bits and perform the next operation. Then it reads the next instruction, and so on. Each machine-code instruction causes the CPU (central processing unit) to perform a simple operation such as an arithmetic calculation or storing data in RAM (random access memory). Execution of machine code can be controlled by firmware or else carried out by means of the CPU's internal wiring.

In analyzing problems or debugging programs, a tool called a dump is commonly used. A dump is a printout that shows the program in its machine code form. However, because it would be difficult and inefficient to render the program entirely as zeros and ones, each four bits are represented by a single hexadecimal numeral. Dumps also contain other information about the computer's operation, such as the address of the instruction that was being executed at the time the dump was initiated.

Human programmers rarely, if ever, write or read in machine code because it is essentially impossible to translate it from or into thoughts that the human mind can understand. Humans write in so-called high-level languages that are far more comprehensible than machine code, and that require far fewer characters to represent the task at hand.

Machine languages are sometimes referred to as 1st generation programming languages.

This was last updated in September 2005

Continue Reading About machine code (machine language)

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Great Information!
For beginners they can also see : <a href="http://www.fresherstalent.com/2014/08/what-is-machine-language-in-computer.html">What is Machine Code in Programming Language - Chapter 2 | Freshers Talent</a>
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and ...

  • password

    A password is an unspaced sequence of characters used to determine that a computer user requesting access to a computer system is...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

SearchStorage

  • CompactFlash card (CF card)

    A CompactFlash card (CF card) is a memory card format developed by SanDisk in 1994 that uses flash memory technology to store ...

  • email archiving

    Email archiving (also spelled e-mail archiving) is a systematic approach to saving and protecting the data contained in email ...

  • RAID (redundant array of independent disks)

    RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is a way of storing the same data in different places on multiple hard disks to ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage...

  • NVMe (non-volatile memory express)

    NVMe (non-volatile memory express) is a host controller interface and storage protocol to enable a solid-state drive to use the ...

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close