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Moving data around and operating on it to solve problems.
EDIT: Technically, programming is only "moving data around to solve problems."
This has been proven by Stephen Dolan, PhD: cl.cam.ac.uk/~sd601/papers/mov.pdf and put into actual application by Christopher Domas from Batelle Memorial Research Institute: youtube.com/watch?v=HlUe0TUHOIc Computers actually just move data around.
EDIT 2: Btw, That Chris Domas talk is absolutely amazing and I HIGHLY recommend everyone check it out... he's definitely one of the smartest, if not the smartest computer scientists on the earth right now.
I think @theonlyrealtodd has put it in a very succinct way — Programming is just moving data around to solve problems.
I have a slightly different way to express the same thing, though!
Programming is the process of creating "black boxes" which accept an input, and return an output.
As a programmer you write programs ... design black boxes, with specified rules to convert given inputs into specific outputs!
Programming is to describe/formulate ways to solve/do specific tasks and/or achieve certain goals and/or implement certain behaviours.
Usually done in a formal language... but that's a detail :P we can program just by speaking to each other and give each other instructions.
So programming could be seen as a form of communication to pass on information, but this can leads to more abstract theories ;D ...
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