Computer programming (often shortened to programming) is the comprehensive process that leads from an original formulation of a computing problem to executable programs. It involves activities such as analysis, understanding, and generically solving such problems resulting in an algorithm, verification of requirements of the algorithm including its correctness and its resource consumption, implementation (or coding) of the algorithm in a target programming language, testing, debugging, and maintaining the source code, implementation of the build system and
Within software engineering, programming (the implementation) is regarded as one phase in a software development process.
There is an on-going debate on the extent to which the writing of programs is an art form, a craft, or an engineering discipline. In general, good programming is considered to be the measured application of all three, with the goal of producing an efficient and evolvable software solution (the criteria for "efficient" and "evolvable" vary considerably). The discipline differs from many other technical professions in that programmers, in general, do not need to be licensed or pass any standardized (or governmentally regulated) certification tests in order to call themselves "programmers" or even "software engineers." Because the discipline covers many areas, which may or may not include critical applications, it is debatable whether licensing is required for the profession as a whole. In most cases, the discipline is self-governed by the entities which require the programming, and sometimes very strict environments are defined (e.g. United States Air Force use of AdaCore and security clearance). However, representing oneself as a "Professional Software Engineer" without a license from an accredited institution is illegal in many parts of the world.
Another on-going debate is the extent to which the programming language used in writing computer programs affects the form that the final program takes. This debate is analogous to that surrounding the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis in linguistics and cognitive science, which postulates that a particular spoken language's nature influences the habitual thought of its speakers. Different language patterns yield different patterns of thought. This idea challenges the possibility of representing the world perfectly with language, because it acknowledges that the mechanisms of any language condition the thoughts of its speaker community.