The geek dictionary

Whenever you talk to an IT guy (or girl) there will be a day where you will end up in an epic discussion about programming.
For some reason they always feel te need to explain their vision programming and programming languages.

Therefor I will give you a short introduction in the basics of programming so next time you know what the geeks are talking about (this is what you’ve always wanted! It’s like speaking a foreign language).

I’ll try to give a clear overview about the most commonly used datatypes in programming. This does not just apply to one language, these types are available in most languages.

Integer or Int: a number (just like in math class in the old days) without any decimal detail. Meaning that an integer cannot ever have numbers after the decimal sign. Things like 3/2 won’t work..
If you need a decimal you will need to use a…

Double: also a numeric value but this type is a decimal numeric value

String: the most sexy datatype in the history of mankind. The string… This datatype contains a sequence of symbols. Even when you put numbers in this type, they will be interpreted as characters.
In the SQL language (I’m just going to tell you since it is so commonly used) a string can be multiple types.

  • Char: if a type of string like this is defined a length should be defined. So you wil have something like char(30). This means that memory for 30 characters is used. Even if you only enter 5 characters, 30 characters worth of space will be used.
  • Varchar: The same as a char but with one crutial difference. If you define a varchar 30 and use only 5 characters, only 5 characters will be stored! There will be a spot reserved for 30 characters, but if you do not use all of the space it won’t be used. You can say this is a more efficient char type. There are many variations of this type. Like varchar2, clob, … .

Boolean: this is value that can only return TRUE or FALSE. You’ll use this to do checks in your code.

Array: An array is an object that stores multiple values. The type of values you store depends on what type of array you define (depends on programming language). For example, if you define an array 10, you can store up to 10 items in this object.

Float: Who comes up with these names?! A float is like a double, only with less detail.

Pointer: This is a special datatype. A pointer, literally points to another object somewhere else stored in the computer memory..
Did you ever receive a null pointer exception error in a program.. This type is the guilty one ;-).

These are the most commonly used datatypes throughout programming languages. Each languages has variations on these types but this really depends from languages to language. I cannot just give you a list because it would be the longest blog post in history. :’)

If you have any doubts or questions please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to provide you an explanation.

(I do hope everyone gets this one?)

Update: to those who are very advanced on this topic.. I realize not everything is 100% accurate. But there is no need to go too much into detail. We don’t want to scare of “beginner” geeks.. do we ;-)


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