What is a Variable in Programming?

A variable is a way of storing information in a computer program. Think of a variable like a container; the name of the variable is the label on the container, which shows us what is inside.

Variables are used in coding and programming to help coders understand, remember, and use the information in the program. Once a variable has been assigned, the variable’s name can be used to bring up the data it stores later on in the program; this means that coders don’t have to remember strings of details because there is a shortcut instead.

Essential things to remember about variables in programming

  • To assign a variable, most programs use the “equals” symbol (=). It shows the name of the variable (the label on the container) and the values you want to store (the contents of the container).
  • Different programming languages have different rules about the variables in that program. Ensure to double-check the rules for the language that you are using.
  • Choose the names of your variables carefully. They should be clear about what they are labeling and easily understood by other readers.
  • Variables can change – for example, in a game, a variable might change when the user has added information. For example, perhaps the game asks the user what their name is, or it needs to store a high score to see if anyone can beat the high score.
  • A variable is the opposite of a constant. A constant in a program is a data value that always stays the same.
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