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 follow the 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.

Most programming languages are not standardized by an international (or national) standard, even widely used ones, such as Perl or Standard ML (despite the name). Notable standardized programming languages include ALGOL, C, C++, JavaScript (under the name ECMAScript), Smalltalk, Prolog, Common Lisp, Scheme (IEEE standard), ISLISP, Ada, Fortran, COBOL, SQL and XQuery.

General comparison

The following table compares general and technical information for a selection of commonly used programming languages. See the individual languages' articles for further information.

Language Original purpose Imperative Object-oriented Functional Procedural Generic Reflective Event-driven Other paradigms Standardized?
1C:Enterprise programming language Application, RAD, business, general, web, mobile Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Object-based, Prototype-based programming No
ActionScript 3.0 Application, client-side, web Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes
1996, ECMA
Ada Application, embedded, realtime, system Yes Yes[2] No Yes[3] Yes[4] No No Concurrent,[5] distributed,[6] Yes
1983, 2005, 2012, ANSI, ISO, GOST 27831-88[7]
Aldor Highly domain-specific, symbolic computing Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
ALGOL 58 Application Yes No No No No No No No
ALGOL 60 Application Yes No No Yes Yes No No Yes
1960, IFIP WG 2.1, ISO[8]
ALGOL 68 Application Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Concurrent Yes
1968, IFIP WG 2.1, GOST 27974-88,[9]
Ateji PX Parallel application No Yes No No No No No pi calculus No
APL Application, data processing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Array-oriented, tacit Yes
1989, ISO
Assembly language General Yes No No No No No No Any, syntax is usually highly specific, related to the target processor Yes
1985 IEEE 694-1985[10]
AutoHotkey GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific Yes Yes
[11]
No Yes No No Yes No
AutoIt GUI automation (macros), highly domain-specific Yes No No Yes No No Yes No
Ballerina Integration, agile, server-side, general Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Concurrent, transactional, statically and strongly typed programming, diagrammatic / visual programming De facto
standard via Ballerina Language Specification[12]
Bash Shell, scripting Yes No No Yes No No No Optionally
POSIX.2[13]
BASIC Application, education Yes No No Yes No No No Yes
1983, ANSI, ISO, ECMA
BeanShell Application, scripting Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No No
In progress, JCP[14]
BLISS System No No No Yes No No No No
BlitzMax Application, game Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No No
Boo Application, game scripting No Yes No No No No No No
C Application, system,[15] general purpose, low-level operations Yes No No Yes No No No Yes
1989, ANSI C89, ISO C90, ISO C99, ISO C11, ISO C18[16]
C++ Application, system Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
1998, ISO/IEC 2003, ISO/IEC 2011,ISO/IEC 2014,ISO/IEC 2017[17]
C# Application, RAD, business, client-side, general, server-side, web, game programming Yes Yes Yes[18] Yes Yes Yes Yes Structured, concurrent Yes
2000, ECMA, ISO[19]
Clarion General, business, web Yes Yes Yes[20] No No No No Unknown
Clean General No No Yes No Yes No No No
Clojure General No No Yes No No No No Concurrent No
CLU General Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No
COBOL Application, business Yes Yes No Yes No No No Yes
1968 ANSI X3.23, 1974, 1985; ISO/IEC 1989:1985, 2002, 2014
Cobra Application, business, general, web Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
ColdFusion (CFML) Web No Yes No Yes No No No No
Common Lisp General Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Extensible syntax, Array-oriented, syntactic macros, multiple dispatch, concurrent Yes
1994, ANSI
COMAL 80 Education Yes No No Yes No No No No
Crystal General purpose Yes Yes[21] Yes Yes No No No Alpha stage[22] No
Curry Application No No Yes No Yes No No lazy evaluation, non-determinism De facto standard via Curry Language Report
Cython Application, general, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Aspect-oriented No
D Application, system Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Generative, concurrent No
Dart Application, web, server-side, mobile, IoT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Structured Yes
ECMA-408 standard
Dylan Application No Yes Yes No No No No No
Eiffel General, application, business, client-side, server-side, web (EWF) Yes Yes Yes[23][24] No Yes Yes Erl-G Yes Agents Distributed SCOOP, Void-safe Yes
2005, ECMA, ISO[25]
ELAN Education Yes No No Yes No No No Structured, stepwise refinement No
Elixir Application, distributed No No Yes No No Yes Yes Concurrent, distributed No
Erlang Application, distributed No No Yes No No Yes Yes Concurrent, distributed No
Euphoria Application No No No Yes No Yes No No
Factor General Yes No Can be viewed as No Yes Yes No Stack-oriented No
FP No No Yes No No No No No
F# Application Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Forth General Yes No Can be viewed as No No No No Stack-oriented Yes
1994, ANSI
Fortran Application, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Array-based, vectorized, concurrent, native distributed/shared-memory parallelism Yes
1966, ANSI 66, ANSI 77, MIL-STD-1753, ISO 90, ISO 95, ISO 2003, ISO/IEC 1539-1:2010 (2008), ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG5 N2145 (2018)
FreeBASIC Application, numerical computing Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No
Gambas Application Yes Yes No No No No Yes No
Game Maker Language Application, game programming Yes Yes No No No No Yes No
GLBasic Application, games Yes Yes No Yes No No No Simple object-oriented No
Go Application, web, server-side Yes Can be viewed as[26] No Yes Yes Yes Yes Concurrent De facto standard via Go Language Specification
Gosu Application, general, scripting, web Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No No
GraphTalk Application No Yes No No No No No Logic No
Groovy Application, general, scripting, web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Meta-programming In progress, JCP[27]
Harbour Application, business, data processing, general, web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Declarative No
Haskell Application No No Yes No Yes No No Lazy evaluation Yes
2010, Haskell 2010[28]
Haxe Application, general, web Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
HyperNext Application, education No No No Yes No No Yes Weakly typed No
HyperTalk Application, RAD, general No Yes No No No No Yes Weakly typed Unknown
Io Application, host-driven scripting Yes Yes No No No No No No
IPL General No No Yes No No No No Unknown
ISLISP General Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes
1997, 2007, ISO
J Data processing No No No No No No No Array-oriented, function-level, tacit No
JADE Application, distributed Yes Yes No No No No No No
Java Application, business, client-side, general, mobile development, server-side, web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Concurrent De facto standard via Java Language Specification
JavaScript Client-side, server-side, web Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes prototype-based Yes
1997-2021, ECMA-262
Joy Research No No Yes No No No No Stack-oriented No
Julia General, technical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Multiple dispatch, meta, scalar and array-oriented, parallel, concurrent, distributed ("cloud") No
K Data processing, business No No No No No No No Array-oriented, tacit Unknown
Kotlin Application, mobile development, server-side, client-side, web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes[29] Yes No
Ksh Shell, scripting Yes Yes No Yes No No No Several variants, custom programmable, dynamic loadable modules Yes
1992, POSIX.2[30]
LabVIEW (G) Application, industrial instrumentation-automation Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Dataflow, visual No
Lisp General No No Yes No No No No Unknown
LiveCode Application, RAD, general No Yes No No No No Yes Weakly typed No
Logtalk Artificial intelligence, application No Yes No No No Yes Yes Logic No
Linden Scripting Language (LSL) Virtual worlds content scripting and animation Yes No No Yes No No Yes Scripts exist in in-world objects De facto reference is the Second Life implementation of LSL.[31]
Lua Application, embedded scripting Yes Yes[32] Yes Yes No Yes No Aspect-oriented, prototype-based No[33]
Maple Symbolic computation, numerical computing Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Distributed No
Mathematica Symbolic language Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Logic, distributed No
MATLAB Highly domain-specific, numerical computing Yes Yes No Yes No No No No
Modula-2 Application, system Yes No No No Yes No No Yes
1996, ISO[34]
Modula-3 Application Yes Yes No No Yes No No No
MUMPS (M) General, application, databases Yes Approved for next Standard No Yes Partially Thru Indirection and Xecute Yes Approved for next Standard Concurrent, multi-user, NoSQL, transaction processing Yes
1977 ANSI, 1995, ISO 2020
Nim Application, general, web, scripting, system Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Multiple dispatch, Concurrent, meta No
Oberon Application, system Yes Yes No No No No No No
Object Pascal Application, general, mobile app, web Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Structured No
Objective-C Application, general Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No Concurrent No
OCaml Application, general Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Occam General Yes No No Yes No No No Concurrent, process-oriented No
Opa Web applications Yes No Yes No Yes No No Distributed No
OpenLisp General, Embedded Lisp Engine Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes
Supersedes ISLISP, ISO
Oxygene Application Yes Yes No No Yes No No No
Oz-Mozart Application, distribution, education Yes Yes Yes No No No No Concurrent, logic No
Pascal Application, education Yes No No Yes No No No Yes
1983, ISO[35]
Perl Application, scripting, text processing, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
PHP Server-side, web application, web Yes Yes[36] Yes[37] Yes No Yes No De facto standard via language specification and Requests for Comments (RFCs)
PL/I Application Yes Yes No Yes No No No Yes
1969, ECMA-50 (1976)
Plus Application, system development Yes No No Yes No No No No
PostScript Graphics, page description Yes No No Yes No No No Concatenative, stack-oriented Yes
As the PostScript Reference Manual[38]
PowerShell Administration, application, general, scripting Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Pipeline No
Prolog Application, artificial intelligence No No Yes Yes No Yes No Logic, declarative Yes
1995, ISO/IEC 13211-1:1995, TC1 2007, TC2 2012, TC3 2017
PureBasic Application No No No Yes No No No No
Python Application, general, web, scripting, artificial intelligence, scientific computing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Aspect-oriented De facto standard via Python Enhancement Proposals (PEPs)
R Application, statistics Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No
Racket Education, general, scripting No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Modular, logic, meta No
Raku Scripting, text processing, glue Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Aspect-oriented, array, lazy evaluation, multiple dispatch, metaprogramming Yes
REALbasic Application No No No Yes No No No Unknown
Rebol Distributed Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Dialected No
REXX Scripting Yes Yes (NetRexx and Object REXX dialects) No Yes No No No Yes
1996 (ANSI X3.274-1996)
RPG Application, system Yes No No Yes No No No No
Ring Application Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Metaprogramming, Declarative programming, Natural-language programming No
Ruby Application, scripting, web Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Aspect-oriented Yes
2011(JIS X 3017), 2012(ISO/IEC 30170)
Rust Application, server-side, system, web Yes Yes[39] Yes Yes Yes No[40] Yes Concurrent No
S Application, statistics Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No
S-Lang Application, numerical, scripting Yes No No Yes No No No No
Scala Application, distributed, web Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes De facto standard via Scala Language Specification (SLS)
Scheme Education, general No No Yes No No No No Extensible syntax Yes
1998, R6RS
Seed7 Application, general, scripting, web Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No Multi-paradigm, extensible, structured No
Simula Education, general Yes Yes No No No No Yes discrete event simulation, multi-threaded (quasi-parallel) program execution Yes
1968
Small Basic Application, education, games Yes No No No No No Yes Component-oriented No
Smalltalk Application, general, business, artificial intelligence, education, web Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Concurrent, declarative Yes
1998, ANSI
SNOBOL Text processing No No No No No No No Unknown
Standard ML Application Yes No Yes No Yes No No Yes
1997, SML '97[41]
Swift Application, general Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Concurrent, declarative, protocol-oriented No
Tcl Application, scripting, web Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Visual Basic Application, RAD, education, business, general, (Includes VBA), office automation Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Component-oriented No
Visual Basic .NET Application, RAD, education, web, business, general Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Structured, concurrent No
Visual FoxPro Application No Yes No No No No No Data-centric, logic No
Visual Prolog Application Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Declarative, logic No
Wolfram Language Symbolic language Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Logic, distributed No
XL Yes Yes No No No No No concept programming No
Xojo Application, RAD, general, web Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No
XPath/XQuery Databases, data processing, scripting No No Yes No No No No Tree-oriented Yes
1999 W3C XPath 1, 2010 W3C XQuery 1, 2014 W3C XPath/XQuery 3.0
Zeek Domain-specific, application Yes No No No No No Yes No
Zsh Shell, scripting Yes No No Yes No No No Loadable modules No

Type systems

Main page: Comparison of programming languages by type system

Failsafe I/O and system calls

Most programming languages will print an error message 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
1C:Enterprise Yes
Ada Yes (exceptions)
ALGOL Yes (exceptions or return value depending on function)
AutoHotkey No (global ErrorLevel must be explicitly checked)
Bash Optional[FSIO 1]
Ballerina Yes
C No[FSIO 2]
C++ Some (STL iostreams throw on failure but C APIs like stdio or POSIX do not)[FSIO 2]
C# Yes
COBOL No
Common Lisp Yes ("conditions and restarts" system)
Curry Yes
D Yes (throwing on failure) [FSIO 3]
Eiffel No – It actually depends on the library and it is not defined by the language
Erlang Yes
Fortran Yes
GLBasic No – Will generally cause program to crash
Go Yes (unless result explicitly ignored)
Gosu Yes
Harbour Yes
Haskell Yes
ISLISP Yes
Java Yes
Julia Yes
Kotlin Yes
LabVIEW Yes
Lua No (some functions do not warn or throw exceptions)
Mathematica Yes
Object Pascal Some
Objective-C Yes (exceptions)
OCaml Yes (exceptions)
OpenLisp Yes
Perl No[FSIO 4]
PHP Yes
Python Yes
Raku Yes
Rebol Yes
Rexx Yes (with optional signal on... trap handling)
RPG No
Ring Yes
Ruby Yes
Rust Yes (unless result explicitly ignored)
S Unknown
Smalltalk Yes
Scala Yes[FSIO 5]
Standard ML
Swift ≥ 2.0 Yes (exceptions)
Tcl Yes
Visual Basic Yes
Visual Basic .NET Yes
Visual Prolog Yes
Wolfram Language Yes
Xojo Yes
XPath/XQuery Yes (exceptions)
Zeek Yes
Language Failsafe I/O
  1. set -e enables termination if any unchecked exit status is nonzero.
  2. 2.0 2.1 gcc can warn on unchecked errno. Newer versions of Visual Studio usually throw exceptions on failed I/O when using stdio.
  3. "STD.stdio - D Programming Language". https://dlang.org/phobos/std_stdio.html. 
  4. Considerable error checking can be enabled optionally, but by default Perl is not failsafe.
  5. Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine from which it inherits the runtime exception handling.

Expressiveness

Language Statements ratio[42] Lines ratio[43]
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.[44] 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.[45]

Benchmarks

Barplot of log-time to produce a 1600² Mandelbrot [46] as reported in The Benchmarks Game [47]

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.[48]

Timeline of specific language comparisons

  • 1974 – Comparative Notes on Algol 68 and PL/I[49] – S. H. Valentine – November 1974
  • 1976 – Evaluation of ALGOL 68, JOVIAL J3B, Pascal, Simula 67, and TACPOL Versus TINMAN – Requirements for a Common High Order Programming Language.
  • 1977 – A comparison of PASCAL and ALGOL 68[50]Andrew S. Tanenbaum – June 1977.
  • 1993 – Five Little Languages and How They Grew – BLISS, Pascal, ALGOL 68, BCPL & C – Dennis M. Ritchie – April 1993.
  • 2009 – On Go – oh, go on – How well will Google's Go stand up against Brand X programming language? – David Given – November 2009

See also

To display all pages, subcategories and images click on the "►":

References

  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, 3.9 Tagged Types and Type Extensions
  3. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 6: Subprograms
  4. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 12: Generic Units
  5. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 9: Tasks and Synchronization
  6. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3 Annex E: Distributed Systems
  7. "Vak.ru". http://vak.ru/lib/exe/fetch.php/book/gost/pdf/gost-27831-88.pdf. 
  8. ISO 1538:1984
  9. "Vak.ru". http://vak.ru/lib/exe/fetch.php/book/gost/pdf/gost-27974-88.pdf. 
  10. IEEE 694-1985
  11. Objects - Definition & Usage
  12. "Ballerina Language Specification". WSO2. 2018-05-01. https://ballerina.io/res/Ballerina-Language-Specification-WD-2015-05-01.pdf. 
  13. POSIX.2, Shell and Utilities, Command Interpreter (IEEE Std 1003.2-1992.)
  14. JSR 274
  15. bell-labs.com
  16. ANSI C89, ISO/IEC 9899:1990, 1999, 2011, 2018
  17. ISO/IEC 14882:1998, 2003, 2011, 2014, 2017
  18. Codeproject.com: Functional Programming in C# 3.0 using Lambda Expression
  19. ECMA-334; ISO/IEC 23270:2006
  20. Softvelocity.com
  21. "Crystal". 2 November 2021. https://github.com/crystal-lang/crystal#why. 
  22. "Crystal". 2 November 2021. https://github.com/crystal-lang/crystal#status. 
  23. Basic Eiffel language mechanisms
  24. Closure (computer programming)
  25. ECMA-367; ISO/IEC 25436:2006
  26. The Go Programming Language (FAQ)
  27. JSR 241
  28. "The Haskell 2010 Language Report". http://www.haskell.org/onlinereport/haskell2010/.  Most Haskell implementations extend the Haskell 2010 standard.
  29. "M8 is out!". http://blog.jetbrains.com/kotlin/2014/07/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" 
  30. POSIX.2, Shell and Utilities, Command Interpreter (IEEE Std 1003.2-1992.)
  31. Halcyon (Inworldz) and Open Sims propose compatible implementations with additional functions.
  32. 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
  33. 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.
  34. ISO/IEC 10514-1:1996
  35. ISO 7185
  36. PHP Manual, Chapter 19. Classes and Objects (PHP 5),
  37. PHP Manual, Chapter 17. Functions
  38. "PostScript Language Reference Manual". https://www.adobe.com/products/postscript/pdfs/PLRM.pdf. 
  39. Is Rust an Object-Oriented Programming Language?
  40. Klabnik, Steve; Nichols, Carol. "Macros". The Rust Programming Language. https://doc.rust-lang.org/book/ch19-06-macros.html. 
  41. SMLNJ.org
  42. Data from McConnell, Steve (30 November 2009). Code Complete. p. 100. ISBN 9780735636972. https://books.google.com/books?id=3JfE7TGUwvgC&pg=PT100.  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.
  43. The ratio of line count tests won by each language to the number won by C when using the Compare to feature at Jon McLoone (November 14, 2012). "Code Length Measured in 14 Languages". https://blog.wolfram.com/2012/11/14/code-length-measured-in-14-languages/.  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.
  44. Felleisen, Matthias. "On the Expressive Power of Programming Languages". ESOP '90 3rd European Symposium on Programming. 
  45. "How programs are measured | Computer Language Benchmarks Game". https://benchmarksgame-team.pages.debian.net/benchmarksgame/how-programs-are-measured.html#source-code. 
  46. Mandelbrot, Benoit B. (1982). The fractal geometry of nature (Revised ed.). San Francisco. ISBN 0-7167-1186-9. OCLC 7876824. 
  47. "Mandelbrot". https://benchmarksgame-team.pages.debian.net/benchmarksgame/performance/mandelbrot.html. 
  48. "The Ultimate Benchmark | The Computer Language Benchmarks Game". https://benchmarksgame-team.pages.debian.net/benchmarksgame/dont-jump-to-conclusions.html. 
  49. Valentine, S. H. (November 1974). "Comparative Notes on Algol 68 and PL/I". The Computer Journal 17 (4): 325–331. doi:10.1093/comjnl/17.4.325. 
  50. "Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam". http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/1871/2609/1/11054.pdf. 

Further reading