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software vs program

i'm a lecturer in computer science and recently i was challenged by a student who asked the difference between a software and a program. i managed to juggle up all the terms and jugons i know to confuse and convince him, but the truth is can someone explain the clear cut difference?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Softwear is like panties.

A pogram is when they kill a bunch of people.

Dennis Atkins
Monday, July 19, 2004

Same as the difference between a computer science lecturer and an idiot

Monday, July 19, 2004

Software is an uncountable noun - you can't have 'a software'.
Programs are countable.
So software is made up of programs, just as matter is made up of particles.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

A program is a set of instructions which follow a certain logic to carry out a certain task (or group of tasks).

How easy to change this program is what brings the terms like Software, Firmware, Hardware, blah blah. Also, the smallest unit of instruction is also different for each. Statement, Opcode, Transistor, etc.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Software <--> system
Program  <--> an executable file.

That's how i misunderstand it.

Michael Moser
Monday, July 19, 2004

The Wikipedia entry for this is excellent:

= Computer Software =
Computer software (or simply software) is a collection of programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. Software can implement a computer program; such software performs the function of the program it implements, either by directly providing instructions to the computer hardware or by serving as input to another piece of software. On the other hand, software sometimes consists only of data purely for the use of other software.

= Computer program =
A computer program (often simply called a program) is an artefact that describes computations and/or actions that are to be carried out by a computer.

In colloquial language the words program and software are used as a synonyms for software application.

As the entry points out, the two phrase have become confused due to poor usage, but the distinction is clear.

Ged Byrne
Monday, July 19, 2004

First a question about requests per second and concurrent users, now a questiona bout software vs program. Is someone using JOS to do his homework?

Li-fan Chen
Monday, July 19, 2004

software : program :: shelter : house

Greg Hurlman
Monday, July 19, 2004

Well who says there's any one formal definition? yours is as good as mine really.

I'd say 'program' tends to be used in a more narrow/technical context whereas 'software' in a broader/more consumer-oriented setting. You tend to sell people software rather than programs. Software can apply to quite complex systems whereas a program is typically just one script/application/thingummy.

Monday, July 19, 2004

And on that topic, what's wrong with just admitting to the student that there isn't any one widely-accepted formal definition for it? instead of bullshitting. I'd have more respect for someone that admits they don't have an answer than someone that bullshits.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Did you mention that softwear can create hardwear?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Greg: perfect. thanks.

null fame
Monday, July 19, 2004

curious - try this phrase on for size:
"I don't know, but I'll find out and let you know"

Really, try it some time. Your students will respect you.


Monday, July 19, 2004

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