Should you learn C in 2020/2021? | Hacker Noon

@zeppsanQvarnström

Computer Science Student | Swedish | 22

When working with embedded systems that depend on speed or have a minimal amount of memory, C is a perfect language of choice. This is a short paper about why you should learn C and the benefits of doing so.

To add some credibility to this story, let me introduce myself. My name is Eric and I am a computer science student in Sweden. I have been programming for quite some time now and I feel like it is time to share some of my opinions about C, one of the best programming languages to learn.

Background story

C is an old language, to be formal, it appeared the first time in 1972. The language was developed to combines the capabilities of an assembly language with the feature of high-level language.

Despite its age, the language is still widely used today because of its power and ease of use.

When working with embedded systems that depend on speed or have a minimal amount of memory, C is a perfect language of choice.

Because of its age, many individuals claim that C is not necessary, that newer languages could replace it. However, every language has its purpose and that is what I would like to explain to you.

Why should you learn C?

So the question still remains… Why should you learn a programming language that was created nearly 50 years ago? Let me list some of the reasons below.

  • It’s Fast
  • Combination of low-level and high-level programming
  • Memory management
  • Challenging
  • Good support

C is fast

When talking about C, I often hear that “C is such a fast language“. However, C is not fast, it’s just not slow as all the other more complicated programming languages like Java & C# that has support for garbage collection and so on.

So the reason for C being fast is that it’s lightweight and does not handle stuff for you. You as a programmer have the power to control what features you would like to implement.

C is a combination of high & low-level programming

In C you can create drivers for specific hardware, but at the same time, you can develop a nice desktop application. This is a combination of low-level and high-level programming. I think that this is one of the most important aspects to remember, that C is capable of creating nearly anything you can imagine.

Some might say that C is not necessary to learn since you will not use it that much. I do not agree with that since, in the beginning, it is all about learning the principals of programming, not the language itself (even though you will learn the language as well). When you know the fundamentals, you can learn any language you want in a shorter time since you only need to learn the syntax and minor differences.

The C Programming Language Will be Relevant in Years to Come

C has been around since the early ’70s and is here to stay for a long time. The reason is that C is the foundation for a lot of big software out there. This means that there will be plenty of job opportunities for you, especially if you would like to work with embedded systems.

Embedded systems are another major subject, but if you feel like you want to learn more about it, I would like to recommend watching Jacob Sorber on YouTube.

His channel is also good when learning C.

When comparing C to other languages there are a lot of similarities. Maybe is this because the newer languages have inherited syntax from C? This means that even if you do not want to work with C, it is still not a waste of time since you will have an easier time learning other languages.

How do you learn C?

Back when I learned C, I used to watch a lot of youtube videos, read guides online, and most importantly, practice! Learning C is not complicated if you got the motivation for it, simply do as I did. There are websites that could help you with the practice part. Hackerrank is one example. The website will ask you to solve a problem and then check whether or not you did it right.

Final Words

Yes, you should learn C no matter the year since the language is a good foundation to stand on and will make you a good programmer.

That’s the quick version of why you should learn C and why it’s a good language.

Happy learning!

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