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Computing a part of a program consisting of a coded command to the computer to perform a specified function
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) A set of directions concerning the procedure and means of fulfilling a task or using a piece of equipment or a device.

(2) In law, an act of administration that contains norms and rules regulating the procedure and conditions of performing any activity, as well as norms defining the procedure and conditions for the implementation of the acts issued by the given authority or the next higher authority. In accordance with the Constitution of the USSR (art. 73), instructions are issued by the ministers of the USSR and of the Union and autonomous republics within the jurisdiction of their respective ministries on the basis of and in fulfillment of laws in force; instructions also include decrees and regulations of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the councils of ministers of the Union republics. The right to issue instructions is granted to state committees, central offices, and directorates attached to the councils of ministers of the USSR and of the Union and autonomous republics and other government agencies, as well as to divisions and departments of the executive committees of local Soviets of working people’s deputies.



(in digital computers), a special code—an instruction written in machine language—that determines the action of a digital computer in performing a separate operation or portion of a computation process. In general an instruction contains information about the operations to be performed, the source of operands (data), the destination to which the results of the computations should be transmitted, and the address of the next instruction. A certain number of instructions arranged in a specific manner constitutes a program for solving a problem.

As a rule, an instruction consists of several main parts, such as operational (in every instruction), address, index, indicator, and operand. The operational part contains directions regarding the group of operations performed by the digital computer according to a given instruction. The addresses of the operands on which the operations are to be performed, as well as the results of the operations and sometimes the address of the next instruction, are indicated in the address part. The index part determines the short addresses of the index registers that are used to form the addresses of the operands and instructions. The indicator part of the instruction contains one or more special indicators, such as modifications of the address, the mode of addressing (direct, indirect, relative, and so on), the number of digits in the operands, and the checking. The operand part of the instruction (if there is one) contains the initial parts for some operations. The structure of an instruction determines its format. Fixed formats are technically easy to achieve but do not have the same efficiency for different problems; variable formats make possible flexible use of an instruction.

The computation process involves the sequential execution of the instructions stored in the computer’s memory. The sequential commands are chosen from the memory according to the order of the addresses (for example, the number of the memory cell in which they are stored) or according to the indications contained in the instructions themselves; they are recorded in the computer’s memory along with the numerical data and it is possible to operate with them as with numbers. This makes possible modification of the instruction during the running of a program. The instructions are executed by a central processor and local control devices. An instruction is “called out” to the instruction register from a cell of the internal storage according to the address indicated by the instruction counter. An instruction decoder forms the address of the operands and converts the operation code into a set of control signals that provide for automatic execution of the operation and establish new contents in the instruction counter. The individual actions of the computer (clearing a counter, sending an operand to a counter, and so on) are called elementary operations. The time for the execution of an instruction in a computer depends on the number of addresses contained in it, the type of operation being performed, and the length of the operands, as well as the structure and technical parameters of the computer. In some cases the instructions are divided into principal and preliminary types to shorten their time of execution.

The development of instructions is proceeding mainly in the direction of more complicated formats, increasing their potential by inserting control words, flexible changing of the instructions according to the class of problem to be solved, and an attempt to achieve simplicity of programming and increased output of the computer.


Krinitskii, N. A., G. A. Mironov, and G. D. Frolov. Programmirovanie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Proektirovanie sverkhbystrodeistvuiushchikh sistem. Edited by A. I. Kitov. Moscow, 1965.
Vychislitel’naia sistema IBM-360. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Krinitskii, N. A. Ravnosil’nye preobrazovaniia algoritmov i programmirovanie. Moscow, 1970.




the process of transmitting and acquiring knowledge, skills, and work habits; the basic means of preparing an individual for life and work. The goals of education and upbringing are realized through instruction. Although the main way of obtaining an education is through instruction in various kinds of educational institutions, instruction takes place not only in schools but in the family, on the job, in daily life, and in other spheres. In addition to specially organized instruction, carried out under the supervision of instructors, self-instruction, usually called self-education, is of great importance.

The Marxist-Leninist theory of instruction differs fundamentally from the pedocentric bourgeois theories, which hold that instruction is apolitical and independent of the class structure of society. In a class society, instruction has a class character and is aimed at inculcating certain political, philosophical, legal, moral, and ethical views in the members of society. Its aim is to develop the individual as part of the socioeconomic structure, primarily as an element of the productive forces, with the requisite physical, intellectual, and production capabilities. In capitalist society, there is a contradiction between the need of capitalist production for well-trained personnel and the ruling classes’ efforts to restrict the general educational level of workers for ideological reasons. There is no such contradiction under socialism. In the USSR and other socialist countries, instruction facilitates the solution of the most important problems of building communism: the creation of the material and technical basis for communism, the establishment of communist social relationships, the upbringing of the new man, and the all-around development of the new man’s physical, mental, and moral powers.

The content and nature of instruction are determined by the level of the material and cultural development of the society in which it takes place. In primitive society, instruction was inseparable from everyday activity; it was not organized. The invention and spread of writing permitted the preservation of accumulated knowledge unrelated to immediate activity. It became necessary to organize and establish special institutions—schools—which were responsible for transmitting knowledge and skills to the new generation, thereby preparing it for work and life. At all stages of the development of human society the goals, content, organization, and methods of instruction have changed in accordance with the nature of social relationships, the demands for general education and vocational training, and pedagogical ideas about instruction itself.

Modern scientific and technological progress has necessitated the development of instructional content, forms, methods, and means that would correspond to the new social demands and to the abilities and needs of the students. The fulfillment of these requirements is reflected in the following organization of instruction. (1) Close ties are being established among different forms and stages of instruction, and the idea has gained currency that a person should study throughout his life (what is called the permanent character of learning). (2) General polytechnical education is becoming increasingly important, and vocational training is being based on broader general education. (3) The proportion of theoretical material corresponding to the latest scientific achievements has increased significantly. (4) Greater attention is being given to developing students’ cognitive powers and abilities. (5) Mass media—radio, television, films, and newspapers—are being used more extensively, as well as various forms of self-education.

Instruction is a dual process that includes both the teacher and the learner and depends on the interaction of the following factors: the goals of instruction, upbringing, and student development; the content of instruction, that is, the knowledge, skills, and habits that the students must master; teaching, that is, the work of the educator, essentially the supervision of the cognitive and practical activity of the students (the teacher’s basic functions are to stimulate learning, to expound the material under study, to organize students’ activity, and to test their knowledge and skills); and learning, the activity of the students in mastering knowledge and mental and physical skills.

A world view, personal qualities, and abilities are developed in the process of instruction and upbringing. Humanity’s sociohistorical experience is passed on to children and adults through instruction. However, this experience is assimilated in various ways, depending on the individual’s own experiences, his previously acquired skills and habits, his attitude toward learning, and his personal characteristics. The methodological basis for the theory of instruction in the pedagogy of the USSR and other socialist countries is the Marxist-Leninist theory of cognition.

The learning process changes at different stages of a person’s development. As a person grows older, there is a transition from involuntary, uncontrollable forms of mental activity to voluntary, controlled forms. At each period of life different levels of learning activity coexist, depending on the complexity of the material with which the student is dealing. By systematically implementing the principle that “good teaching anticipates development” (L. S. Vygotskii, Izbr. psikhologicheskie issledovaniia, 1956, p. 449), it is possible to influence students’ overall development.

In the learning process, individual differences appear alongside age differences and are often more marked than age differences. Students may differ in their study methods, thinking, interests, and inclinations. The all-around development of the personality depends on the fullest possible disclosure of its individuality. The learning process is a special type of individual activity determined by pedagogical conditions. The basic elements of learning are various types of cognitive activity—perception, memory, thinking, and practical actions.

Psychologists and educators have different approaches to the teaching process. Some strive to introduce the basic concepts of cybernetics and mathematical logic, particularly the concept of algorithm, into learning theory. Others interpret the learning process from the standpoint of the “theory of mental actions,” according to which knowledge can be assimilated only through carrying out certain actions, performed first in a material and then in a “materialized” form and gradually becoming transformed into internalized, mental actions. Still others regard learning as the mastery of techniques and methods of mental activity.

Despite the differences in the various approaches to teaching and learning, they have much in common. All educational researchers strive for maximum control over the teaching and learning process. They regard as essential the existence of a standard according to which educational activity must be organized. They divide educational activity into discrete elements, such as separate actions or various stages in the development of a teaching technique, and they recognize that fragmented ways of thinking become combined into more generalized ways and then general methods of rational thinking. Increasing importance is being given to “programmed instruction” and instruction through problem-solving, based on the student’s identification and solution of cognitive problems and the creation of problem situations that stimulate learning.

Many of the theories of teaching and learning that are popular abroad proceed from erroneous ideas about the interaction between object and subject. These theories may be divided into two main groups: those regarding learning as the link between stimulus and reaction and the “cognitive” theories. The theories in the first group reduce learning to the accumulation of specific skills and, by regarding learning as training, actually equate the instruction of people and animals. The second group of theories treats learning as the formation of “cognitive structures,” regarding this as a specifically human ability and emphasizing the qualitative modification of complex forms of behavior. Some contemporary foreign theories of instruction fail to account for the fact that the different learning techniques depend not only on the degree to which the material studied is mastered but also on the nature of the material, on the very sources from which knowledge is being acquired. The instruction process is thus impoverished, with one aspect becoming hypertrophied while the others are ignored.

Soviet scholars believe that the nature and degree of student participation may vary but that the assimilation of knowledge is always the result of a student’s own cognitive activity, guided by the instructor. Instruction is the main stimulus to the development of the student’s cognitive abilities. Improvements in the student’s development create opportunities for posing and solving more complex educational tasks. These tenets underlie the didactic principles that determine the demands made on the content and process of teaching. The aims and tasks of instruction change in the course of history and vary according to social systems and the functions of specific educational institutions. The chief tasks of all types of educational institutions have been formulated in the Basic Principles of Legislation of the USSR and Union Republics on Public Education, adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1973.

The content of instruction is determined by its aims, taking into account social conditions; the state of science, technology, and the arts; and individual aspects of the students’ cognitive activity and mental processes, conditioned by their age and preparation. In vocational and technical schools, specialized secondary schools, and higher educational institutions, the content of instruction includes, in addition to general knowledge, the specialized knowledge, skills, and habits needed by workers in a particular occupation or field. The content of instruction is reflected in curricula, school programs, and textbooks and other teaching aids.

Various methods, means, and organizational systems and forms are used to achieve educational goals. Teaching methods are usually classified according to the type of activity in which the teacher and students are engaged: the lecture, story, discussion, textbook work, demonstration of natural objects, experiments, work operations, use of visual aids, observations, and exercises. Some authors base their classification on the source of knowledge, and methods are divided into three groups: oral, visual, and practical. Others group methods according to didactic goals, such as the presentation of new information or the reinforcement or the testing of knowledge. The extensive use of technical means in the learning process, including films, television, radio, teaching machines, and computers, is having a significant impact on the development of teaching methods.

There are different systems for organizing instruction, of which the most important are individual instruction, individual and team training, the classroom system, the course system, the subject and course system, and the lecture and seminar system. Each system uses its own organizational forms to facilitate the creation of specific conditions for instruction, upbringing, and the development of the students’ cognitive abilities.


Sechenov, I. M. Izbrannye proizvedeniia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1952.
Vygotskii, L. S. Izbrannye psikhologicheskie issledovaniia. Moscow, 1956.
Rubinshtein, S. D. Printsipy i puti razvitiia psikhologii. Moscow, 1959.
Blonskii, P. P. Izbrannye psikhologicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1964.
Danilov, M. A. Protsess obucheniia ν sovetskoi shkole. Moscow, 1960.
Smirnov, A. A. Problemy psikhologii pamiati. Moscow, 1966.
Landa, L. N. Algoritmizatsiia ν obuchenii. Moscow, 1966.
Osnovy didaktiki. Moscow, 1967.
Zankov, L. V. Didaktika i zhizn’. [Moscow, 1968.]
Kabanova-Meller, E. N. Formirovanie priemov umstvennoi deiatel’nosti i umstvennoe razvitie uchashchikhsia. Moscow, 1968.
Kostiuk, G. S. “Printsip razvitiia ν psikhologii.” In Metodologicheskie i teoreticheskie problemy psikhologii. Moscow, 1969.
Leites, N. S. Umstvennye sposobnosti i vozrast. Moscow, 1971.
Skatkin, M. N. Sovershenstvovanie protsessa obucheniia. Moscow, 1971.
Talyzina, N. F. Kibemetika i pedagogika. Moscow, 1971.
Shchukina, G. I. Problema poznavatel’nogo interesa ν pedagogike. Moscow, 1971.
Davydov, V. V. Vidy obobshcheniia ν obuchenii. Moscow, 1972.
Problemy sotsialisticheskoi pedagogiki. Moscow, 1973.
Vallon, H. Otdeistviia k mysli. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from French.)
Bruner, J. Protsess obucheniia. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Spence, K. “Teoreticheskii analiz protsessa naucheniia.” In Eksperimen-tal’naia psikhologiia, vol. 2. Edited by S. S. Stevens. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Miller, G., E. Galanter, and K. Pribram. Plany i struktura povedeniia. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Piaget, J. Izbrannye psikhologicheskie trudy. [Moscow, 1969.]
Linhart, J. Protsess i struktura chelovecheskogo ucheniia. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Czech.)
Aebli, H. Didactique psychologique: Application à la didactique de la psychologie de Jean Piaget, 2nd ed. Paris, 1963.
Guthrie, E. R. The Psychology of Learning, rev. ed. New York, 1960.
Hilgard, E. R. Theories of Learning, 3d ed. New York, 1966.
Lumsdaine, A. A. Teaching Machines and Programmed Learning. Washington, 1960.
Mowrer, O. H. Learning Theory and Behavior. New York, 1960.
Ausubel, D. P. The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning: An Introduction to School Learning. New York, 1963.
Madsen, K. B. Theories of Motivation, 4th ed. Kent, 1968.
Okon, W. U podstaw problemowego uczenia sie∀. Warsaw, 1964.
Berlyne, D. E. Structure and Direction in Thinking. New York, 1966.
Skinner, B. F. The Technology of Teaching. New York, 1968.
Uchebniiat protses i urokut. Sofia, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A pattern of digits which signifies to a computer that a particular operation is to be performed and which may also indicate the operands (or the locations of operands) to be operated on.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(1) A statement in a programming language. See source code.

(2) A machine instruction. See machine language.
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