The debate between Python and C++ has been hot in the programming world for as long as anyone can remember.
Both languages have valuable use cases. When it comes to choosing between them, one must be aware of the syntax, usage and overall programming approach of each language.
There are many factors that will weigh on the Python vs. C++ debate. In this article, I will discuss both languages and highlight the key differences between Python and C++ that should make it easy for you to pick the right language for your project.
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C++ is a general-purpose programming language that has its origin in C language. It is widely applied in the development of large, complex systems. C++ is known to be the most portable among programming languages because it allows you to include both high-level and low-level language features. Unlike Python, the code for C++ is specific to the operating system that it runs on.
C++ was created by Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension to C language. It was an object-oriented form of C - also known as C with classes. Over time, C++ language has expanded. It was standardized by ISO and five revisions to this policy been published so far. The next revision is in progress.
The two main components of C++ are a direct mapping of hardware features provided primarily by the C subset, and zero-overhead abstractions based on those mappings. C++ supports four types of memory management, including static storage duration objects, thread storage duration objects, automatic storage duration objects, and dynamic storage duration objects. C++ introduced the object-oriented programming (OOP) features to C.
What is Python?
Python was created in 1991 by Guido van Rossum. It is a general-purpose programming language that his known for its ease of readability. Since inception, Python was designed to be simple to use. In fact, it is mostly known for the simplicity of its code, which makes it easier to work with. Python uses much more whitespace than most other programming languages.
Like C++, Python is an object-oriented programming language. It supports multiple programming paradigms including functional, imperative, object-oriented, structured, and reflective.
The idea for Python came up in the 1980s as a successor to the ABC language. Python is an interpreted language, which means that it is not converted to machine-readable at runtime. The syntax for Python is simpler than C++ and most other contemporary programming languages.
Python is used extensively in machine learning. Therefore, it has significant applications in insurance, retail, banking, and aerospace. Machine learning is very useful in generating insights and making predictions.
Python is used as the main programming language by most data analysts. It is very useful in handling huge amounts of data in the most cost-effective way.
Python is very helpful in backend web development. Django is one platform that allows the use of Python in web development. Although raw python can be used to develop a website too, that is rare.
There are a number of key differences between Python and C++.
First, C++ code needs complex syntax to work like curly brackets and semicolons. Python, in comparison, is simpler and depends mainly on the indentation of the code as each level of indentation creates a new structure. Many developers consider Python to be more readable than C++ because of htis.
Second, in C++, a semicolon marks the end of the statement. However, in Python, the end of the line is counted as the end of the statement. If a statement needs to continue for several lines, backslash (\) is used.
Third, boolean expressions are different in both languages. In C++, false or true is returned based on the value. For instance, 0 is false and other numeric values are true. In Python, there are other possibilities.
Fourth, variables in C++ are required to have a type like int or float since it is a statically typed language. Python, on the other hand, is dynamically typed and does not require a predefined data types. This provides useful flexibility but can also lead to problems from using variables in inappropriate contexts.
Another key area of difference is memory management. While in C++ memory management happens manually, Python does not have any such feature. In Python, memory management occurs automatically through a daemon known as a garbage collector.
Mapped data structures are also different in each language. A C++ map is contained that stores values indexed by a key. In Python, the same function is performed by a dictionary but is comparatively more flexible.
When it comes to performance, C++ is better than Python since C++ is compiled, and Python undergoes interpretation. Also, because the variable type is predefined in C++, it cannot cause an error during the runtime.
C++ is generally considered better for creating hard-core graphics and heavy games. However, Python is preferred for artificial intelligence features in games.
Supports Garbage Collection
Does not support Garbage Collection
Easier to write code
Not easy in contrast to Python due to complex syntax
Run through interpreter
C++ is a pre-compiled
Rapid Prototyping is possible due to the small size of the code
Rapid Prototyping not possible due to larger code size
Python is challenging to install on windows box
No difficulty in installation
Scope of the Variables
Variables are accessible even outside the loop
Variables’ scope is limited to within the loops
Functions do not have restrictions on the type of the argument and type of its return value
The function can accept and return the type of value which is already defined
Easier to maintain, object-oriented and simpler to use
Less clean and manageable in comparison to python
Dynamically typed language
Statically typed language
Python is slower
C++ is faster than Python
Integration of C++ and Python
Developers in Python often combine it with C++ modules with it to make up for the less robust features that Python has. Specifically, accelerator modules of C++ are used to fix the performance issues with Python.
The integration of Python and C++ leads to better performance with increased speed and simplicity. To be able to embed Python in C++, a C++ program has to be created, compiled and linked. Visual Studio is used for embedding.
Disadvantages of C++
There is no security for your code in C++.
C++ is used for platform-specific applications mostly and a different application needs to be developed for different platforms.
C++ is complex and difficult to debug when used for web applications.
C++ does not support garbage collection.
There is no built-in support for threads in C++.
C++ is not very portable in comparison with other high-level languages.
Disadvantages of Python
Python is used on relatively few platforms.
Being a dynamic language, it shows more errors when it is run.
It lacks commercial support.
The research into factors concerning Python vs C++ leads to the conclusion that Python is easier to learn for beginners. The code is easy to read and syntax is simple. Also, it is better for web development (especially on the backend).
Python is also more popular with those dealing with data analysis and machine learning. While C++ can be used for machine learning, it is not a good idea. Python has a great support system for artificial intelligence and machine learning frameworks.
C++ is the obvious choice when it comes to game development. Although Python can be used to develop simpler games, sophisticated games require C++. Performance-wise too, C++ is the clear winner since it is compiled language.