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What is object-oriented programming?
While complex, the purpose of object-oriented programming is to enable developers to reuse existing code and, as a result, save time when they design object-oriented programs. In addition to creating objects, developers also create parent classes with specific properties, and child classes that inherit properties from their parent classes. Objects and their overarching classes can represent anything from people’s names to widgets found on a smart device.Footnote 1
The origins of object-oriented programming date back to the early 1960s, when engineers like Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard developed artificial intelligence.Footnote 2 The concept has continued to evolve as new object-oriented programming languages — including Java, C++, C#, and Ruby — have enabled innovative solutions to emerging technical problems.Footnote 3 Since object-oriented languages are used by organizations across the world, object-oriented programming can be an exciting programming domain to explore.
Languages that enforce object-oriented concepts can be complex and multifaceted, making them a difficult starting point for new programmers. Before learning an object-oriented programming language, developers should ideally learn a general-purpose language like Python. They should also understand both dynamic memory allocation and garbage collection and each of the four main principles of object-oriented programming: abstraction, inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism.
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Object-oriented programming course curriculum
Object-oriented programming is a foundational programming paradigm in today’s software engineering world. Object-oriented programming can also be found in the curricula for several data science, data analysis, and statistics courses because it’s a useful programming paradigm for languages that work with large data sets.
A typical bachelor’s program in software engineering or computer science may introduce learners to the four fundamentals of object-oriented programming: abstraction, inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism.
Learners are also introduced to an object-oriented programming language such as Java or C#. They develop sample programs that bridge the gaps between object-oriented programming concepts and code to more deeply understand the concepts. Learners ideally exit an introductory course with an understanding of what object-oriented programming is and why it’s important, so they can begin developing larger programs and, in some cases, pursue a master’s degree in software engineering if they desire.
Explore object-oriented programming developer jobs
A developer that understands the four principles of object-oriented programming and has a firm command of at least one object-oriented programming language may begin searching for a development role. Roles that require object-oriented programming fundamentals might include:
Developers in roles involving object-oriented programming leverage their deep understanding of object-oriented programming fundamentals, the intricacies of their chosen programming language, and their general programming knowledge, to write code and make important decisions about the software they’re developing. Depending on their level of experience, they may also be tasked with crafting software flowcharts and state diagrams, and shaping the direction of a program’s functionality.
It’s important to note that learning object-oriented programming on its own does not mean you have the skills required for the jobs at specific companies. Learners can benefit from boot camp programs in other areas as well as boot camps specific to coding.