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Computer Science: Coding Vocabulary Terms

Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer

Even if you don't have plans to become a computer programmer, you should still learn computer science terms. Knowing these vocabulary words will help you talk to and understand others when you're using and talking about computers. If you decide that you do want to dive into coding and learn how to make your own websites and programs, one of the first things you'll need to do is learn some coding vocabulary terms. Then, you can use your skills to write algorithms, software, and games for people to use on a computer.

Algorithm: An algorithm is a list of steps required to complete a task.

Binary Alphabet: A binary alphabet includes the two options used in binary code.

Bit: A bit is a contraction of the words "binary digit," and it's the smallest unit for computer data.

Block-Based Programming Language: A block-based programming language is a programming language that allows users to create programs with blocks instead of written code.

Boolean: A boolean is a value that might be true or false.

Bug: A bug is an error in a program that keeps it from running correctly.

Byte: A byte is eight bits worth of data.

CMMS Software: CMMS software is software used for maintenance management.

Code: Code is the language used by programmers to make a computer do something.

Command: A command is an instruction for a computer.

Computational Thinking: Computational thinking is a way of thinking that will help you understand a complicated problem so you can solve it.

Conditionals: Conditionals are statements that will run only in specific situations.

Debugging: The process of debugging involves finding and fixing problems in a program or algorithm.

Define: Defining involves figuring out the details of problems.

Event: An event is an action that causes something else to happen.

Function: A function is a piece of code that can be used repeatedly.

Input: Input is a method of giving information to a computer.

Iteration: An iteration is a repetitive action or command, usually created with programming loops.

Loop: A loop is an action that is repeated.

Output: Output is the information that results from a computer process or program.

Parameter: A parameter is an extra piece of information that customizes a function.

Pattern Recognition: Pattern recognition involves finding patterns in problems, which can help you find the solution to a complex problem.

Pixel: A pixel is a tiny piece of a digital image.

Program: A program is a complex algorithm created by coding that makes a computer do something.

Run: To run a program means to tell the computer to follow the commands written in the program.

Sequencing: Sequencing is the order in which instructions are written in an algorithm.

Variable: A variable is a placeholder to mark the place for information that might change.

While Loop: A while loop repeats as long as a condition is true.

Learn How to Code

  • Maze Maker: As you play this maze-maker game, you'll be building useful coding skills.
  • Code Monkey Challenge: Work your way through the Code Monkey challenge to test your coding skills.
  • Java Game Coding Level 1: This tutorial is short, but it will give you a quick overview of Java game coding.
  • My Robotic Friends (PDF): You'll need to use a robot vocabulary to program a robot to complete a task in this lesson.
  • Five Coding Activities You Can Do Without a Computer: You might be surprised at the coding skills you can learn without turning on a computer. Try some of these unplugged games.
  • Conditionals: Coding With Cards (PDF): Play this coding game with your class to learn about conditionals.
  • Coding Made Easy: With just a computer and an Internet connection, you can start learning how to program and code.
  • Coding Games: Play fun games to learn how to code on your computer.
  • Fun Coding Games: With Internet coding games, you'll be learning how to code while you have fun.
  • Code Monster: Play around with the code to see what you can do and follow the monster's instructions.