Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson

The Universal Programming Language

There are hundreds of programming languages and most of them are good for something. Knowing which language is best for your application requires knowing many languages well.

However there is a subset of features shared by almost every programming language, and while each language may have unique features which make it superior for a particular application, almost every imaginable application can be realized using only this shared subset of all languages. I call this The Universal Programming Language or TUPL .

What are the components of TUPL?


Variables are used to store the data that is manipulated by the program. TUPL variables can store any values, and have no practical limits on how much data they can store.

The values of variables can be set, erased and compared to other variables.

Variables can be “indexed” which is to say that specific parts of the value stored in a variable can be accessed by specifying the position of the data.


TUPL code normally runs in the order it is written, but there are are two statements that can change this flow: if and while. The if statement compares two variables and based on the result of the comparison chooses one of two paths through the code.


A block of TUPL code can be run repeatedly using a loop. A loop can repeat a fixed number of times, or it can be “broken” conditionally by testing the value of a variable.


Functions are simply collections of TUPL code that can be called by name. Functions can only operate on variables declared within the function, or variables passed by the code calling the function. When a function is complete, the program resumes where it left off when the function was called.

Functions always return a value, and that value can optionally be stored in a variable. If the programmer doesn’t specify what to include in this variable when writing the function, it is empty, unless an error occurs in the function. If this happens the error is included in the variable.

All code in TUPL runs inside a function. When a TUPL program is run, the function “main” is called. The code in the main function either finishes it’s job and returns, exiting the program or it calls additional functions which in turn run their code and return to main.

A basic example


message = “Hello, world!”

return message


A more complex example

count word{

letters = 0

while word[letters]{

letters plus 1


return letters



name = “Jason”

namelength = count name

return namelength



Everything about TUPL described so far can be implemented in every programming language that I’m familiar with. This includes Python, JavaScript, C (and kin), Rust, Lua, BASIC and probably even most assembly languages (although I’d have to think about that a little more to be sure). At the moment there is no “automatic” compiler for TUPL that converts the code to these languages or compiles TUPL code into runnable programs.

Isn’t TUPL just pseudocode?

I suppose that at the moment it is, at least until I provide some kind of implementation (which I intend to do). But the purpose of TUPL is much different than that of pseudocode as well.

The purpose of TUPL is to provide a universal foundation for writing programs that can be implemented and run on any computer. Programs written in TUPL are completely portable, making TUPL an ideal tool for writing software when it is unknown where the software will be run. Furthermore, almost any specialized language will provide features that can be used to improve the quality of any TUPL program, so you can choose a language which provides the most important advantages for your application. A TUPL program will work anywhere, and can always be improved through specialization if necessary , after the program is in use and the most important areas of improvement can be identified objectively .

I’ve used something like TUPL in almost all of the programming I’ve done, and it’s what’s made it possible for me to program in so many different languages (sometimes in more than one at a time). It’s is something I plan to expand on in one of the books I’ve been writing, and as I experiment with it more I’ll formalize it enough that I can create some sort of compiler (ideally something that can emit source code in an array of languages as well as executables).