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C++ is a programming language that you can use to control your computer. A programming language is just like a regular language---it has a vocabulary, and a set of rules for how to make commands. A program is nothing more than a list of commands, or instructions, that you give to the computer. When we write a program, we first begin by thinking very carefully about what we want the computer to do, and create a step-by-step plan for how the computer will do it. This step-by-step plan is called an algorithm. For example, an algorithm for making a bowl of cereal might look like the following:
Notice how detailed that algorithm is! When you write an algorithm, you want to be as detailed and specific as possible, because computers are really stupid. They only know as much as you tell them, so if you want to the computer to do something correctly, you'd better tell it exactly how and give it enough information to complete the task.
We'll come back to the idea of an algorithm in just a moment, but first let's write our first C++ program.