It is not so popular question these days that Why do I need to learn Assembly Language. Because whenever we talk about one of the most difficult programming languages of all time, or whenever we think about Low-Level programming language, the language which always comes in our mind is Assembly language.
Nowadays, peoples are running behind high-level programming languages which are easier to learn, and have many job opportunities waiting after learning these high-level languages like Java, Python, etc.
So is learning assembly language in 2020-2021 a complete waste of time?
You will meet many students who will be complaining about their schools or teachers and the way their teachers give them home works to do and pressurize them write programs. There may be different and many reasons for this.
But if you will meet any computer science student having any complaint about programming languages, the chances are that he/she must be complaining about assembly language. You will hear a lot of complaints about the difficulty of assembly language.
But nothing is bad in it because nowadays assembly language is not widely used or not even used in many programming companies and also you will not find any colleges or schools except a few where assembly language is in their syllabus.
But it doesn’t mean that you will not face any assembly language programs in your career. You will face some programs for which you would have to learn at least a little bit of assembly language to work properly with your computer programs and also it will help you at different steps of your programming career.
Now when we talk about learning assembly language in 2020-21, there are still some cool reasons to learn it. The first and one of the important reason is that first think about it that why do we learn many algorithms and topics in a data structure or any other subject which we think never going to use in future? I think that’s because it helps us to better understand computers and it’s working. Similarly, assembly language will give us a deep insight into computers and their architecture and how it works if we learn it.
It will also help us to become a better programmer as well as it will help us to make a better decision as a software engineer or programmer. Probably you will not find a software engineer in your neighbor or in your friend circle who is working daily with assembly language but it might be possible that every software engineer or student will need assembly language at a particular time in career.
We have already discussed a large portion of assembly language but still, some of you will want to know what is assembly language? In simple words, it is a human-readable machine language that can be read by humans but almost as difficult to understand as machine language.
What is Machine Language? is it your question? In simple words, Machine Language is a language that a machine or the computer understands. Computers understand only that language which is written by using 0 and 1 and this language is also called binary language.
Now Machine language is very difficult to learn and this is the reason why we use High-Level programming language like Java, Python, etc for programming because the high-level programming language is very easy to learn.
Now if we want to give instruction to the computer, we write codes in either High-Level programming language or Middle-Level programming language but the computer can’t understand these instructions as we already know that the computer understands only binary language.
So the compiler will first compile these instructions written by you to the assembly language or Low-Level language and this assembly language is the intermediate code for the conversion of your code into machine instructions.
We all know that computers can only understand binary language or the language which is written using 0 and 1. So when we write codes in C programming language or any high-level language like Java, Python then the above process happens so that the instructions written by us in a high-level language or middle-level language can be converted into machine language which can be understandable by the computer.
So if you want to understand this whole process in detail, let’s do some practical work. Take a simple C language program and that’s none other than the universal “hello world ” program.
Let’s understand it practically:
- Take a simple hello world program of C programming language.
- Compile this hello world program with -S (dash S).
- The compiler will compile the code in assembly.
- We get a dot s (.s) extension file that has an assembly code of this hello world program.
So this method will help you to understand how any code is converted into assembly language and what can be the assembly code of any program. This will also help you to understand the whole process by which your code is converted to assembly language and how the assembly language program of any program looks like.
You can see in the image below that our hello.c file has a C code for the hello world program. After compiling this hello.c with -S, we get another file as hello.s which has assembly code for the hello world program.
Now open the hello.s file and see the assembly code for the hello world program which we had in C language and now you can try to understand each line of the assembly code.
Now another good reason to learn assembly language is that if you are an embedded system developer and you are working with processors and many extraordinary tools but still if you find some errors and bugs and that can’t be fixed so easily many times, then if you know assembly language, you can see what causes this errors because many times you need to see the generated machine code to fix the errors.
Here is another important reason to learn assembly language and that is if you want to make your code run faster, you can write assembly code on your own and make your program run faster. When we talk about the speed of the code, we would have to consider even a small piece of code and we can’t neglect even one line of code.
Now we have already discussed many reasons for this question “why do I need to learn Assembly Language”? But now another question comes How much assembly language should I learn? In simple words, you don’t need to learn assembly language if you don’t want to learn it.
There are many programmers with a very successful career and earning a lot without assembly language. Assembly language will help you to become a better programmer but it doesn’t mean to become a better programmer you need to learn assembly language. But still, you can learn very basics of assembly this includes basic arithmetic, function calls, system calls, I/o, arithmetic operations like add, subtract, multiply, divide as well as Bitwise AND, XOR, OR. Even you can learn function calls in assembly to better understand how function calls works in C programming language.
When you will understand assembly language, you will also try to understand various topics in it including registers, indirect addressing, direct addressing, addressing modes, etc. I am breaking it into different categories and not describing all of them in detail because the assembly language depends on the type of processors.
It totally depends upon the processors, so for each processors, there is a different set of instructions and have a different assembly language. If you will learn assembly language, you will have to learn different assembly for different processors and that’s why I do not recommend it to learn because investing a good amount of time on it may not be so helpful in future.
However, if you are someone who wants to make a career in assembly or if you are a student or someone who wants to learn it for knowledge or for fun or any reason, you can learn it.
So, if you want to become an expert in assembly or you need to become an expert you can learn it deeply. But generally, if you are one of those who don’t need to use assembly language every day, then you can learn very basics and it will be enough for you. You can learn how assembly works, basic topics, how codes are changed into the assembly and it’s enough.
So you don’t need to learn assembly from any specific book if you have a computer architecture or computer system organization class in which there are some topics containing assembly language portion. Because when you will learn those topics or those portions then you will automatically learn whatever assembly you need. You would not need to learn assembly language from somewhere else.
What you can do is write simple C programs and then try to convert them into assembly language programs. I have discussed the steps to convert C programs into assembly code. Open the converted assembly code and then then try to understand the converted assembly codes and see if you can understand each and every code of the assembly program. After doing these simple steps, you will understand the basics of assembly codes that you need to learn and here below is the conclusion of why do I need to learn assembly language.
Assembly language is a low-level language that is very hard to learn. Even writing codes for simple programs is not simple in assembly language. And the most important thing is that you can be a successful programmer without knowing assembly language. You don’t have to know assembly language to become a successful programmer.
However, if you are a student of computer science, you can learn very basic assembly programming and it is enough for you. Why Do I Need To Learn Assembly Language? If you are someone who wants to make a professional career in assembly or if you need to learn assembly language in detail then you can learn it.
As assembly language is not so easy to learn and for different processors, there is different assembly language. So I think investing a large amount of time in assembly language is not necessary. You have many high-level programming languages to learn and to get a job.