Home : Software Terms : Pseudocode Definition


Most software programs are developed using a programming language, like C++ or Java. These languages have a specific syntax that must be adhered to when writing program's source code. Pseudocode, on the other hand, is not a programming language, but simply an informal way of describing a program. It does not require strict syntax, but instead serves as a general representation of a program's functions.

Since each programming language uses a unique syntax structure, understanding the code of multiple languages can be difficult. Pseudocode remedies this problem by using conventional syntax and basic english phrases that are universally understood. For example, a line of PHP code may read:if ($i < 10) { i++; }

This could be written in pseudocode as:if i is less than 10, increment i by 1.

By describing a program in pseudocode, programmers of all types of languages can understand the function of a program.

Pseudocode is an informal language, so it is mainly used for creating an outline or a rough draft of a program. Because it is not an actual programming language, pseudocode cannot be compiled into an executable program. Therefore, pseudocode must be converted into a specific programming language if it is to become an usable application.

Updated: December 6, 2008

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