Comparison of programming languages

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Programming languages are used for controlling the behavior of a machine (often a computer). Like natural languages, programming languages conform to rules for syntax and semantics.

There are thousands of programming languages[1] and new ones are created every year. Few languages ever become sufficiently popular that they are used by more than a few people, but professional programmers may use dozens of languages in a career.


General comparison[edit]

The following table compares general and technical information for a selection of commonly used programming languages. See the individual languages' articles for further information. Please note that the following table may be missing some information.

Language Intended use Imperative Object-Oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-Driven Other Paradigm(s) Standardized?
ActionScript 3.0 Application, client-side, Web X X X 1996, ECMA
Ada Application, embedded, realtime, system X X X[2] X[3] concurrent,[4] distributed,[5] imperative object-oriented[6] 1983, 2005, 2012, ANSI, ISO, GOST 27831-88[7]
Aldor Highly domain-specific, symbolic computing X X X No
ALGOL 58 Application X No
ALGOL 60 Application X 1960, IFIP WG 2.1, ISO[8]
ALGOL 68 Application X concurrent 1968, IFIP WG 2.1, GOST 27974-88,[9]
Ateji PX Parallel application X pi calculus No
APL Application, data processing array-oriented, tacit 1989, ISO
Assembly language General X any, syntax is usually highly specific, related to the target processor No
AutoHotkey GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific X No
AutoIt GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific X X X No
BASIC Application, education X X 1983, ANSI, ISO
BBj Application, business, Web X X No
BeanShell Application, scripting X X X X In progress, JCP[10]
BitC System X X No
BLISS System X No
BlitzMax Application, game X X X No
Boo Application No
Bro domain-specific, application X X No
C Application, system,[11] general purpose, low-level operations X X 1989, ANSI C89, ISO C90, ISO C99, ISO C11[12]
C++ Application, system X X X X X 1998, ISO/IEC 1998, ISO/IEC 2003, ISO/IEC 2011[13]
C# Application, RAD, business, client-side, general, server-side, Web, Robotics X X X[14] X X X structured, concurrent 2000, ECMA, ISO[15]
Clarion General, business, Web X X X[16] Unknown
Clean General X X No
Clojure General X concurrent No
CLU General X X X X No
COBOL Application, business X X 2002 (ISO/IEC 1989)
Cobra Application, business, general, Web X X X X X No
ColdFusion (CFML) Web X X No
Common Lisp General X X X X X 1994, ANSI
COMAL 80 Education X X No
Crystal 1.0.0 Education X X X No
Cython Application, general, numerical computing X X X X aspect-oriented No
D Application, system X X X X generative, concurrent No
Dart Application, Web X X structured No
Dylan Application X X No
Eiffel Application X X X 2005, ECMA, ISO[17]
Erlang Application, distributed, telecom X concurrent, distributed No
Euphoria Application. Since the interpreter is shared for system and application code, system is not an intended use because application crashes would affect the whole system. X X No
Factor stack-oriented No
Falcon General, Application X X X prototype OOP, message oriented, tabular programming No
FP X No
F# Application X X X X No
Forth General X stack-oriented 1994, ANSI
Fortran Application, numerical computing X X X X 1966, ANSI 66, ANSI 77, MIL-STD-1753, ISO 90, ISO 95, ISO 2003, ISO/IEC 1539-1:2010 (2008)
FreeBASIC Application, numerical computing X X X X 1956
G2 Application, inference, expert system X X X common graphical development and runtime environment No
Gambas Application X X X No
Game Maker Language Application, games X X X No
GLBasic Application, games X X X simple object-oriented No
Go Application, system X concurrent No
Gosu Application, general, scripting, Web X X X X No
GraphTalk Application X logic No
Groovy Application, general, scripting, Web X X X aspect-oriented In progress, JCP[18]
Harbour Application, business, data processing, general, Web X X X X X X declarative No
Haskell Application X X lazy evaluation 2010, Haskell 2010[19]
Haxe Application, general, Web X X X X X No
HyperNext Application, education X X weakly typed No
HyperTalk Application, RAD, General X X weakly typed Unknown
Io Application, host-driven scripting X X No
ISLISP General X X X X 1997, ISO
J Data processing array-oriented, function-level, tacit No
JADE Application, distributed X X No
Java Application, business, client-side, general, server-side, Web X X X X concurrent De facto standard via Java Language Specification
JavaScript Client-side, Server-side, Web X X X X prototype-based 1997, ECMA
Joy Research X stack-oriented No
K Data processing, business array-oriented, tacit Unknown
Kotlin Application, mobile development, server-sider, client-side, Web (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) X X X X
LabVIEW (G) Application, industrial instrumentation-automation dataflow, visual No
Lisp General X Unknown
Livecode Application, RAD, General X X weakly typed No
Logtalk Artificial intelligence, application X X X logic No
Lua Application, embedded scripting X X[20] X X X aspect-oriented No[21]
Maple Symbolic computation, numerical computing X X X X distributed No
Mathematica Symbolic language X X X X logic, distributed No
MATLAB Highly domain-specific, numerical computing X X X No
Modula-2 Application, system X X 1996, ISO[22]
Modula-3 Application X X X No
Oberon Application, system X X No
Objective-C Application, general X X X concurrent No
Occam General X X concurrent, process-oriented No
Opa Web applications X X X distributed No
Oxygene Application X X X No
Oz Application, distribution, education X X X concurrent, logic No
Pascal Application, education X X 1983, ISO[23]
Pawn Embedded, host-driven scripting X No
Perl Application, scripting, text processing, Web X X X X X X No
PHP Server-side, Web Application, Web X X[24] X[25] X No
PL/I Application X X X 1969
Plus Application, system development X X No
Prolog Application, artificial intelligence logic 1995, ISO
PureBasic Application X No
Python Application, general, Web, scripting, AI, scientific computing X X X X aspect-oriented No
Racket Education, general, scripting X X X X modular, logic, meta No
REALbasic Application X Unknown
REBOL Distributed X X X dialected No
RPG (IBM) Application, system X X No
Ruby Application, scripting, Web X X X X aspect-oriented 2011(JIS X 3017), 2012(ISO/IEC 30170)
Rust Application, system X X X X X concurrent No
S Application, statistics X X X X No
S-Lang Application, numerical, scripting X X No
Scala Application, distributed, Web X X X X De facto standard via Scala Language Specification (SLS)
Scheme Education, general X 1998, R6RS
Seed7 Application, general, scripting, Web X X X X multi-paradigm, extensible, structured No
Simula Education, general X X X discrete event simulation, multi-threaded (quasi-parallel) program execution 1968
Small Basic Application, education, games X X component-oriented No
Smalltalk Application, education X X X concurrent, declarative 1998, ANSI
SNOBOL Text processing Unknown
Standard ML Application X X X 1997, SML '97[26]
Tcl Application, scripting, Web X X X X No
Visual Basic Application, RAD, education, business, general, (Includes VBA), office automation X X X component-oriented No
Visual Basic .NET Application, RAD, education, Web, business, general X X X X X No
Visual FoxPro Application X data-centric, logic No
Visual Prolog Application X X X X declarative, logic No
Windows PowerShell Administration X X X X pipeline No
XL X X concept programming No
Language Intended use Imperative Object-Oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-Driven Other Paradigm(s) Standardized?

Type systems[edit]

Brief definitions

  • A nominal type system means that the language decides whether types are compatible and/or equivalent based on explicit declarations and names.
  • A structural type system means that the language decides whether types are compatible and/or equivalent based on the definition and characteristics of the types.
  • Type checking determines whether and when types are verified. Static checking means that type errors are reported based on a program's text (source code). Dynamic checking means that type errors are reported based on a program's dynamic (run-time) behavior..
Language Type safety Type expression Type compatibility and equivalence Type checking
ActionScript 3.0 safe implicit with optional explicit typing static
Ada safe[TS 1] explicit nominal static
Aldor unsafe implicit static
ALGOL 58 safe explicit static
ALGOL 60 safe explicit static
ALGOL 68 safe explicit structural static & tagged unions
APL safe dynamic
AutoHotkey typeless n/a n/a n/a
Ateji PX safe explicit nominal static
BASIC safe explicit nominal static
BLISS typeless n/a n/a n/a
BeanShell safe nominal dynamic
Boo safe implicit with optional explicit typing static with optional dynamic typing
Bro safe implicit with optional explicit typing nominal static
C unsafe explicit nominal static
C++ (ISO/IEC 14882) unsafe explicit nominal static[TS 2]
C# unsafe[TS 3] implicit with optional explicit typing nominal static[TS 4]
Clean safe implicit static
Clojure safe implicit with optional explicit typing dynamic
COBOL safe explicit static
ColdFusion (CFML) safe implicit dynamic
Common Lisp safe implicit with optional explicit typing dynamic
Curl safe nominal
Cython safe implicit with optional explicit typing nominal (extension types) and structural (Python) dynamic with optional static typing
D unsafe[TS 3] explicit nominal static
Dylan safe dynamic
Dynace safe implicit dynamic
Eiffel safe nominal static
Erlang safe implicit dynamic
Euphoria safe explicit, implicit with objects nominal static, dynamic with objects
F# safe implicit nominal static
Falcon safe implicit structural dynamic
Forth typeless n/a n/a n/a
Fortran safe explicit[TS 5] nominal static
Gambas safe explicit nominal
GLBasic safe explicit. Non-explicit declarations available through project options nominal static
Go[27] safe implicit with optional explicit typing structural static
Gosu safe partially implicit (local type inference) nominal (subclassing) and structural (structural) static
Groovy safe implicit with optional explicit typing dynamic with optional static typing
Harbour safe implicit with optional explicit typing dynamic
Haskell safe implicit with optional explicit typing structural static
Haxe safe implicit with optional explicit typing nominal (subclassing) and structural (structural) static with optional dynamic typing
Io safe implicit dynamic
ISLISP safe dynamic
J safe dynamic
Java safe[28] explicit nominal static
JavaScript safe implicit structural dynamic
Joy safe dynamic
Kotlin safe partially implicit (local type inference) nominal static
LabVIEW safe
Lua safe implicit dynamic
Maple safe dynamic
Mathematica safe dynamic
MATLAB M-code safe dynamic
Modula-2 unsafe[TS 3] explicit nominal static
Modula-3 unsafe[TS 3] explicit structural static
Oberon safe explicit nominal static and partially dynamic[TS 6]
Objective-C safe explicit nominal dynamic with optional static typing[29]
OCaml safe implicit with optional explicit typing structural static
Object Pascal (Delphi) safe explicit nominal static
Opa safe implicit with optional explicit typing structural static
Oxygene unsafe implicit static
Oz safe implicit structural dynamic
Pascal unsafe[TS 3] explicit nominal static
Perl 5 implicit dynamic
Perl 6 partially implicit[TS 7] dynamic with optional static typing
PHP implicit dynamic
Plus safe explicit structural static, dynamic (optional)
Prolog dynamic
Pure dynamic
Python safe implicit structural dynamic
REBOL safe implicit dynamic
RPG (IBM) unsafe static
Ruby safe implicit structural dynamic
Rust safe implicit with optional explicit typing static with optional dynamic typing
S dynamic
S-Lang safe implicit dynamic
Scala safe partially implicit (local type inference) nominal (subclassing) and structural (structural) static
Scheme safe implicit dynamic (latent)
Seed7 safe explicit nominal static
Simula safe static[TS 8]
Smalltalk safe implicit dynamic
Standard ML safe implicit with optional explicit typing structural static
Tcl dynamic
Visual Basic safe implicit with optional explicit typing nominal static
Visual Basic .NET unsafe[TS 3] explicit static
Visual Prolog safe partially implicit nominal static
Windows PowerShell safe implicit dynamic
XL safe nominal static
Language Type safety Type expression Type compatibility among composites Type checking
  1. ^ Unsafe operations are well isolated by a "Unchecked_" prefix.
  2. ^ with optional dynamic type casting (see dynamic cast)
  3. ^ a b c d e f It is almost safe, unsafe features are not commonly used.
  4. ^ with optional dynamic type (see dynamic member lookup)
  5. ^ Optionally, typing can be explicitly implied by the first letter of the identifier (known as implicit typing within the Fortran community).
  6. ^ dynamic checking of type extensions i.e. inherited types
  7. ^ explicit for static types
  8. ^ optional for formal and virtual procedures

Failsafe I/O and system calls[edit]

Most programming languages will print an error message and/or throw an exception if an input/output operation or other system call (e.g., chmod, kill) fails, unless the programmer has explicitly arranged for different handling of these events. Thus, these languages fail safely in this regard.

Some (mostly older) languages require that the programmer explicitly add checks for these kinds of errors. Psychologically, different cognitive biases (e.g., optimism bias) may affect novice and experts alike and these omissions can lead to erroneous behavior.

Language Failsafe I/O
Ada Yes (exceptions)
ALGOL Yes (exceptions or return value depending on function)
AutoHotkey No (global ErrorLevel must be explicitly checked)
Bro Yes
C No[FSIO 1]
C++ No[FSIO 2]
C# Yes
COBOL No
Common Lisp Yes
D Yes[citation needed]
Eiffel No – It actually depends on the library and it is not defined by the language
Erlang Yes
Falcon Yes
Fortran Yes
GLBasic No – Will generally cause program to crash
Go No
Gosu Yes
Harbour Yes
Haskell Yes
ISLISP Yes
Java Yes
Kotlin Yes
LabVIEW Yes
Lua No (some functions do not warn or throw exceptions)
Mathematica Yes
Object Pascal (Delphi) Some
Objective-C Yes (exceptions)
OCaml Yes (exceptions)
Perl No[FSIO 3]
PHP Yes
Python Yes
REBOL Yes
Ruby Yes
Rust Yes
S Unknown
Scala Yes[30]
Standard ML Yes[citation needed]
Tcl Yes
Visual Basic Yes
Visual Prolog Yes
Language Failsafe I/O
  1. ^ gcc can warn on unchecked error status. Newer versions of Visual Studio usually throw exceptions on failed I/O when using stdio.
  2. ^ g++ can warn on unchecked error status. Newer versions of Visual Studio usually throw exceptions on failed I/O when using stdio.
  3. ^ Considerable error checking can be enabled optionally, but by default Perl is not failsafe.

Expressiveness[edit]

Language Statements ratio[31] Lines ratio[32]
C 1 1
C++ 2.5 1
Fortran 2 0.8
Java 2.5 1.5
Perl 6 6
Smalltalk 6 6.25
Python 6 6.5

The literature on programming languages contains an abundance of informal claims about their relative expressive power, but there is no framework for formalizing such statements nor for deriving interesting consequences.[33] This table provides two measures of expressiveness from two different sources. An additional measure of expressiveness, in GZip bytes, can be found on the Computer Language Benchmarks Game.[34]

The same concepts applied to measuring the expressiveness of computer programming languages can be applied to markup languages like HTML.[35]


Benchmarks[edit]

Benchmarks are designed to mimic a particular type of workload on a component or system. The computer programs used for compiling some of the benchmark data in this section may not have been fully optimized, and the relevance of the data is disputed. The most accurate benchmarks are those that are customized to your particular situation. Other people's benchmark data may have some value to others, but proper interpretation brings many challenges. The Computer Language Benchmarks Game site warns against over-generalizing from benchmark data, but contains a large number of micro-benchmarks of reader-contributed code snippets, with an interface that generates various charts and tables comparing specific programming languages and types of tests.

Timeline of specific language comparisons[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ As of May 2006 Diarmuid Pigott's Encyclopedia of Computer Languages hosted at Murdoch University, Australia lists 8512 computer languages.
  2. ^ Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 6: Subprograms
  3. ^ Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 12: Generic Units
  4. ^ Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 9: Tasks and Synchronization
  5. ^ Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3 Annex E: Distributed Systems
  6. ^ Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, 3.9 Tagged Types and Type Extensions
  7. ^ Vak.ru
  8. ^ ISO 1538:1984
  9. ^ Vak.ru
  10. ^ JSR 274
  11. ^ CM.bell-labs.com
  12. ^ ANSI C89, ISO/IEC 9899:1990, 1999, 2011
  13. ^ ISO/IEC 14882:1998, 2003, 2011
  14. ^ Codeproject.com: Functional Programming in C# 3.0 using Lambda Expression
  15. ^ ECMA-334; ISO/IEC 23270:2006
  16. ^ Softvelocity.com
  17. ^ ECMA-367; ISO/IEC 25436:2006
  18. ^ JSR 241
  19. ^ "The Haskell 2010 Language Report". Retrieved 2011-12-07.  Most Haskell implementations extend the Haskell 2010 standard.
  20. ^ Lua doesn't have explicit "object" type (more general type of "table" is used for object definition), but does have explicit syntax for object method calling
  21. ^ Version releases are accompanied with a definitive Lua Reference Manual showing full syntax and semantics; a reference implementation, and a test suite. These are used to generate other Lua VM implementations and compilers such as Kahlua and LLVM-Lua.
  22. ^ ISO/IEC 10514-1:1996
  23. ^ ISO 7185
  24. ^ PHP Manual, Chapter 19. Classes and Objects (PHP 5),
  25. ^ PHP Manual, Chapter 17. Functions
  26. ^ SMLNJ.org
  27. ^ The Go Programming Language Specification
  28. ^ Sheng Liang, Gilad Bracha. Dynamic class loading in the Java virtual machine. Volume 33, Issue 10 of ACM SIGPLAN Notices, October 1998.
  29. ^ Developer.apple.com
  30. ^ Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine from which it inherits the runtime exception handling.
  31. ^ Data from Code Complete, p. 100. The Statements ratio column "shows typical ratios of source statements in several high-level languages to the equivalent code in C. A higher ratio means that each line of code in the language listed accomplishes more than does each line of code in C.
  32. ^ The ratio of line count tests won by each language to the number won by C when using the Compare to feature at benchmarksgame.alioth.debian.org. Last updated May, 2006. C gcc was used for C, C++ g++ was used for C++, FORTRAN G95 was used for FORTRAN, Java JDK Server was used for Java, and Smalltalk GST was used for Smalltalk.
  33. ^ From On the Expressive Power of Programming Languages, Matthias Felleisen, ESOP '90 3rd European Symposium on Programming.
  34. ^ Computer Language Benchmarks Game ranking
  35. ^ Guillaume Marceau (2009-05-30). "Guillaume Marceau: The speed, size and dependability of programming languages". Blog.gmarceau.qc.ca. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  36. ^ http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/1871/2609/1/11054.pdf

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]