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 Yes Yes Yes 1996, ECMA
Ada Application, embedded, realtime, system Yes Yes Yes[2] Yes[3] concurrent,[4] distributed,[5] imperative object-oriented[6] 1983, 2005, 2012, ANSI, ISO, GOST 27831-88[7]
Aldor Highly domain-specific, symbolic computing Yes Yes Yes No
ALGOL 58 Application Yes No
ALGOL 60 Application Yes 1960, IFIP WG 2.1, ISO[8]
ALGOL 68 Application Yes concurrent 1968, IFIP WG 2.1, GOST 27974-88,[9]
Ateji PX Parallel application Yes pi calculus No
APL Application, data processing array-oriented, tacit 1989, ISO
Assembly language General Yes any, syntax is usually highly specific, related to the target processor No
AutoHotkey GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific Yes No
AutoIt GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific Yes Yes Yes No
BASIC Application, education Yes Yes 1983, ANSI, ISO
BBj Application, business, Web Yes Yes No
BeanShell Application, scripting Yes Yes Yes Yes In progress, JCP[10]
BitC System Yes Yes No
BLISS System Yes No
BlitzMax Application, game Yes Yes Yes No
Boo Application No
Bro domain-specific, application Yes Yes No
C Application, system,[11] general purpose, low-level operations Yes Yes 1989, ANSI C89, ISO C90, ISO C99, ISO C11[12]
C++ Application, system Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1998, ISO/IEC 1998, ISO/IEC 2003, ISO/IEC 2011[13]
C# Application, RAD, business, client-side, general, server-side, Web, Robotics Yes Yes Yes[14] Yes Yes Yes Yes structured, concurrent 2000, ECMA, ISO[15]
Clarion General, business, Web Yes Yes Yes[16] Unknown
Clean General Yes Yes No
Clojure General Yes concurrent No
CLU General Yes Yes Yes Yes No
COBOL Application, business Yes Yes Yes ANSI X3.23 1968, 1974, 1985; ISO/IEC 1989:1985, 2002, 2014
Cobra Application, business, general, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ColdFusion (CFML) Web Yes Yes No
Common Lisp General Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes extensible syntax, syntatic macros, multiple dispatch 1994, ANSI
Language Intended use Imperative Object-Oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-Driven Other Paradigm(s) Standardized?
COMAL 80 Education Yes Yes No
Crystal 1.0.0 Education Yes Yes Yes No
Cython Application, general, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes aspect-oriented No
D Application, system Yes Yes Yes Yes generative, concurrent No
Dart Application, Web Yes Yes structured No
Dylan Application Yes Yes No
Eiffel Application Yes Yes Yes 2005, ECMA, ISO[17]
Erlang Application, distributed, telecom Yes 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. Yes Yes No
Factor stack-oriented No
Falcon General, Application Yes Yes Yes prototype OOP, message oriented, tabular programming No
FP Yes No
F# Application Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Forth General Yes stack-oriented 1994, ANSI
Fortran Application, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes 1966, ANSI 66, ANSI 77, MIL-STD-1753, ISO 90, ISO 95, ISO 2003, ISO/IEC 1539-1:2010 (2008)
FreeBASIC Application, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes No
G2 Application, inference, expert system Yes Yes Yes common graphical development and runtime environment No
Gambas Application Yes Yes Yes No
Game Maker Language Application, games Yes Yes Yes No
GLBasic Application, games Yes Yes Yes simple object-oriented No
Go Application, system Yes concurrent No
Gosu Application, general, scripting, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes No
GraphTalk Application Yes logic No
Groovy Application, general, scripting, Web Yes Yes Yes aspect-oriented In progress, JCP[18]
Harbour Application, business, data processing, general, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes declarative No
Haskell Application Yes Yes lazy evaluation 2010, Haskell 2010[19]
Haxe Application, general, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
HyperNext Application, education Yes Yes weakly typed No
HyperTalk Application, RAD, General Yes Yes weakly typed Unknown
Io Application, host-driven scripting Yes Yes No
Language Intended use Imperative Object-Oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-Driven Other Paradigm(s) Standardized?
ISLISP General Yes Yes Yes Yes 1997, ISO
J Data processing array-oriented, function-level, tacit No
JADE Application, distributed Yes Yes No
Java Application, business, client-side, general, server-side, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes concurrent De facto standard via Java Language Specification
JavaScript Client-side, Server-side, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes prototype-based 1997, ECMA
Joy Research Yes stack-oriented No
K Data processing, business array-oriented, tacit Unknown
Kotlin Application, mobile development, server-sider, client-side, Web (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[20] No
LabVIEW (G) Application, industrial instrumentation-automation dataflow, visual No
Lisp General Yes Unknown
Livecode Application, RAD, General Yes Yes weakly typed No
Logtalk Artificial intelligence, application Yes Yes Yes logic No
Lua Application, embedded scripting Yes Yes[21] Yes Yes Yes aspect-oriented No[22]
Maple Symbolic computation, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes distributed No
Mathematica Symbolic language Yes Yes Yes Yes logic, distributed No
MATLAB Highly domain-specific, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes No
Modula-2 Application, system Yes Yes 1996, ISO[23]
Modula-3 Application Yes Yes Yes No
Oberon Application, system Yes Yes No
Object Pascal (Delphi) Application, general, mobile App, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes structured No
Objective-C Application, general Yes Yes Yes concurrent No
Occam General Yes Yes concurrent, process-oriented No
Opa Web applications Yes Yes Yes distributed No
Oxygene Application Yes Yes Yes No
Oz Application, distribution, education Yes Yes Yes concurrent, logic No
Pascal Application, education Yes Yes 1983, ISO[24]
Pawn Embedded, host-driven scripting Yes No
Perl Application, scripting, text processing, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
PHP Server-side, Web Application, Web Yes Yes[25] Yes[26] Yes No
PL/I Application Yes Yes Yes 1969
Language Intended use Imperative Object-Oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-Driven Other Paradigm(s) Standardized?
Plus Application, system development Yes Yes No
Prolog Application, artificial intelligence logic 1995, ISO
PureBasic Application Yes No
Python Application, general, Web, scripting, AI, scientific computing Yes Yes Yes Yes aspect-oriented No
Racket Education, general, scripting Yes Yes Yes Yes modular, logic, meta No
REALbasic Application Yes Unknown
REBOL Distributed Yes Yes Yes dialected No
IBM RPG Application, system Yes Yes No
Ruby Application, scripting, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes aspect-oriented 2011(JIS X 3017), 2012(ISO/IEC 30170)
Rust Application, system Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes concurrent No
S Application, statistics Yes Yes Yes Yes No
S-Lang Application, numerical, scripting Yes Yes No
Scala Application, distributed, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes De facto standard via Scala Language Specification (SLS)
Scheme Education, general Yes 1998, R6RS
Seed7 Application, general, scripting, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes multi-paradigm, extensible, structured No
Simula Education, general Yes Yes Yes discrete event simulation, multi-threaded (quasi-parallel) program execution 1968
Small Basic Application, education, games Yes Yes component-oriented No
Smalltalk Application, education Yes Yes Yes concurrent, declarative 1998, ANSI
SNOBOL Text processing Unknown
Standard ML Application Yes Yes Yes 1997, SML '97[27]
Swift Application, general Yes Yes Yes Yes concurrent No
Tcl Application, scripting, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Visual Basic Application, RAD, education, business, general, (Includes VBA), office automation Yes Yes Yes component-oriented No
Visual Basic .NET Application, RAD, education, Web, business, general Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Visual FoxPro Application Yes data-centric, logic No
Visual Prolog Application Yes Yes Yes Yes declarative, logic No
Windows PowerShell Administration Yes Yes Yes Yes pipeline No
XL Yes Yes concept programming No
Xojo Application, RAD, General, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 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 nominal 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[28] 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[29] 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[30]
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
IBM RPG 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
Xojo safe explicit 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[31]
Standard ML Yes[citation needed]
Tcl Yes
Visual Basic Yes
Visual Prolog Yes
Xojo 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[32] Lines ratio[33]
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.[34] 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.[35]

The same concepts applied to measuring the expressiveness of computer programming languages can be applied to markup languages like HTML.[36]


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. ^ "M8 is out!". "As a first peek into the future reflective capabilities of Kotlin, you can now access properties as first-class objects in Kotlin" 
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ ISO/IEC 10514-1:1996
  24. ^ ISO 7185
  25. ^ PHP Manual, Chapter 19. Classes and Objects (PHP 5),
  26. ^ PHP Manual, Chapter 17. Functions
  27. ^ SMLNJ.org
  28. ^ The Go Programming Language Specification
  29. ^ Sheng Liang, Gilad Bracha. Dynamic class loading in the Java virtual machine. Volume 33, Issue 10 of ACM SIGPLAN Notices, October 1998.
  30. ^ Developer.apple.com
  31. ^ Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine from which it inherits the runtime exception handling.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Felleisen, Matthias. "On the Expressive Power of Programming Languages". ESOP '90 3rd European Symposium on Programming. CiteSeerX: 10.1.1.51.4656. 
  35. ^ Computer Language Benchmarks Game ranking
  36. ^ Marceau, Guillaume (2009-05-30). "Guillaume Marceau: The speed, size and dependability of programming languages". Blog.gmarceau.qc.ca. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  37. ^ http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/1871/2609/1/11054.pdf

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]