What are Low, Middle, and High Level Programming Languages?

Programming languages can be divided into three broad categories. These are High-Level, Middle-Level, and Low-Level languages. These three types of languages are different based on various characteristics.

High level refers to programming languages that are written in a way that can be understood by a human. They are independent and programmers don’t need to have any prior knowledge of the hardware in which the program will be used. Examples of high-level programming languages include C++ and Python.

Middle-level languages serve as a bridge between the hardware and programming layer of a computer. They operate within the abstraction layer of a computer.

On the other hand, Low-level languages are written to meet the needs of particular computer architecture and hardware requirements.

In this article, we are going to highlight key differences between high-level, middle-level, and low-level programming languages.

Difference Between Low, Middle, and High Level Programming Languages

1. Speed

In terms of speed, programs written in low-level languages are faster than those written in middle and high-level languages. This is because these programs do not need to be interpreted or compiled. They interact directly with the registers and memory.

On the other hand, programs written in a high-level language are relatively slower. The main reason for this is they are written in human language. This means that the computer is forced to translate and interpret them into human language before it executes them. All these processes are time-consuming.

The speed of the mid-level language is in between the high and low-level languages. It is neither too high nor too low.

2. Memory requirement

This is another parameter that we can use to differentiate these three types of languages.

Low-level languages are very efficient in terms of memory. They consume less memory. This is very different from high-level languages which are known for being memory-intensive.

High-level languages consume a lot of memory especially when we consider that the fact that these languages still run on a specific runtime environment.

The memory efficiency of medium-level programming languages is not that high as compared to the ones of high-level languages.

3. Ease of use

Low-level languages are friendly to the machines but unfriendly to human programmers. As a human programmer, it is quite hard to deal with binaries and mnemonics. The fact that each instruction is designed for a specific computer architecture makes the language more technical. In short, low-level languages are difficult to learn.

On the other hand, high-level languages are human-friendly. They consist of English statements that can be learned and memorized with ease. This explains why they are the most popular type of programming language.

4. Portability

In this context, the term portability refers to the ability of a language to be used on different computers. Low-level programming languages are less portable. This is because their instructions are machine-dependent. This simply means that each instruction is written for a particular machine. The codes for a particular machine cannot run in another computer architecture.

High-level languages are machine-independent. One code can be used on a different machine and even on a different architecture without any difficulties. This means that high-level programming languages are highly portable. You can transfer a program written in a high-level language from one environment to another and it will still work.

5. Abstraction

In this context, abstraction refers to the relationship between the language with computer hardware. It is minimal or even zero abstraction between low-level languages with computer hardware. These languages interact seamlessly with the computer memory and register.

The gap between mid-level languages and hardware is quite significant. It is bigger than that of low-level languages but smaller than the one with high-level languages.

As expected, high-level languages have the maximum level of abstraction. This is because they operate from the topmost level of a computer where there is minimal interaction with hardware.


As you can see, there are clear differences between high-level, mid-level, and low-level programming languages. We can also point out that each type of programming language is designed to serve its specific purpose. For this reason, we cannot recommend one type of programming over the other.