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 can easily use dozens of different languages during their career.

Contents


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. Please note that the following table may be missing some information.

Language Intended use Paradigm(s) Standardized?
ActionScript 3.0 Web, client-side imperative, object-oriented, event-driven Yes, ECMA
Ada Application, Embedded, System and Realtime imperative, procedural[2], concurrent[3], distributed[4], generic[5], object-oriented[6] Yes, ANSI, ISO, GOST 27831-88 [7]
ALGOL 58 Application imperative No
ALGOL 60 Application imperative Yes, ISO[8]
ALGOL 68 Application imperative, concurrent Yes, GOST 27974-88[9]
APL Application, Data processing array-oriented, tacit Yes, ISO
Assembly language General imperative No
AutoHotkey Highly domain-specific, GUI automation(macros) imperative No
AutoIt Highly domain-specific, GUI automation(macros) event-driven, imperative, procedural No
BASIC Application, Education imperative, procedural Yes, ANSI, ISO
BeanShell Application, Scripting imperative, object-oriented, functional, reflective In progress, JCP[10]
BLISS System procedural No
BlitzMax Application, Game imperative, procedural, object-oriented No
Boo Application No
C System [11] imperative, procedural Yes, ANSI C89, ISO C90/C99
C++ Application; System imperative, procedural, object-oriented, generic Yes, ISO
C# Application, Web imperative, object-oriented, functional[12], generic, reflective Yes, ECMA, ISO[13]
Clean General functional, generic No
Clojure General functional No
CLU General imperative, procedural, object-oriented, generic No
COBOL Application, Business imperative, object-oriented Yes
ColdFusion (CFML) Web Development procedural, object-oriented No
Common Lisp General imperative, functional, object-oriented Yes, ANSI
Comal F-73 Education imperative, procedural No
Comal 80 Education imperative, procedural No
Curl imperative, event-driven, functional, object-oriented, generic, reflective No
D Application; System imperative, object-oriented, generic No
Dylan Application functional, object-oriented No
Eiffel Application imperative, object-oriented, generic Yes, ECMA, ISO[14]
Erlang Application, Distributed and Telecom functional, concurrent, distributed No
Euphoria Application procedural No
Factor stack-oriented No
FP functional No
F# Application imperative, functional, object-oriented, generic No
Forth General imperative, stack-oriented Yes, ANSI
FORTRAN Application, scientific and engineering imperative, procedural, object-oriented, generic Yes, ANSI 66, ANSI 77, MIL-STD-1753, ISO 90, ISO 95, ISO 2003
Game Maker Language Application, games imperative, object-oriented, event-driven No
Go System
GraphTalk logic-oriented, object-oriented No
Groovy Application, Web imperative, object-oriented, aspect-oriented In progress, JCP[15]
Haskell Application functional, generic, lazy evaluation Yes, Haskell 98[16]
HyperNext Application, Education procedural, weakly typed, event-driven No
Io Application, Host-driven Scripting imperative, object-oriented No
J Data processing array-oriented, function-level, tacit No
JADE Application, Distributed imperative, object-oriented No
Java Application, Web imperative, object-oriented, generic, reflective No, Java Language Specification
JavaScript Web, client-side imperative, object-oriented, functional, reflective Yes, ECMA
Joy research functional, stack-oriented No
LabVIEW ("G") Application, industrial instrumentation and automation dataflow, visual No
Lisp Text processing functional Template:Unk
Lua Embedded scripting; Application imperative, object-oriented, functional, aspect-oriented, reflective No[17]
Mathematica Highly domain-specific, Math procedural, functional No
MATLAB M-code Highly domain-specific, Math imperative, object-oriented No
Modula-2 Application; System imperative, generic Yes, ISO[18]
Modula-3 Application imperative, object-oriented, generic No
Mythryl Application, Scripting imperative, generic, functional No
Oberon Application; System imperative, object-oriented No
Objective-C Application imperative, object-oriented, reflective No[19]
Objective Caml Application imperative, object-oriented, functional, generic No
Object Pascal (Delphi) Application imperative, object-oriented, generic, event-driven No
Occam General imperative, procedural, concurrent, process-oriented No
Oxygene Application imperative, object-oriented, generic No
Oz Application, Education, Distribution imperative, logic, functional, object-oriented, concurrent No
Pascal Application, Education imperative, procedural Yes, ISO[20]
Pawn Embedded, Host-driven Scripting imperative No
Perl Application, Text processing, Scripting, Web imperative, procedural, reflective, functional, object-oriented, generic No
PHP Web, server-side imperative, procedural[21], object-oriented[22], reflective No
PL/I Application, COBOL's and Fortran's original domain imperative, object-oriented Yes
Prolog Application, Artificial intelligence logic Yes, ISO
Python General, Application, Scripting, Web imperative, object-oriented, functional, aspect-oriented, reflective No[23]
REALbasic Application Template:Unk
REBOL Distributed computing imperative, object-oriented, functional, dialected No
RPG Application Template:Unk
Ruby Application, Scripting, Web imperative, object-oriented, aspect-oriented, reflective, functional No
S Application, Statistics imperative, procedural, functional, object-oriented No
S-Lang Application, Scripting, Numerical imperative, procedural No
Scala Application, distributed computing object-oriented, functional, generic, lazy evaluation, imperative No
Scheme General, Education functional Yes, R6RS
Simula General, Education imperative, object-oriented, event-driven, discrete event simulation, multi-threaded (quasi-parallel) program execution Yes
Smalltalk Application, Education object-oriented, concurrent, event-driven, declarative, reflective Yes, ANSI
SNOBOL Text processing Template:Unk
Standard ML Application imperative, functional, generic Yes, SML '97[24]
Tcl Application, Scripting imperative, procedural, event-driven No
TDL Bussineess Application Development,Extending Capabilities of Tally.ERP9[25] imperative, concept programming, object-oriented Yes,,Tally Developer
Visual Basic Application, Education imperative, component-oriented, event-driven No
Visual Basic .NET Application, Education, Web imperative, object-oriented, event-driven No
Visual Prolog Application imperative, declarative, logical, object-oriented, functional, event-driven No
Windows PowerShell Administration imperative, object-oriented, functional, pipeline, reflective No
XL imperative, concept programming, object-oriented No
Language Intended use Paradigm(s) Standardized?

Type systems

Brief Definitions

  • Compatibility among composite types is how functions are applied to data typed similarly to its intended type. Name-based compatibility means that functions work only on data of its intended type and declared subtypes. Property-based compatibility means that functions work on any data that has the same structure of its intended type.[clarification needed]
  • Type checking is how type errors are checked. Static checking occurs at compile-time. Dynamic checking occurs at run-time.
Language Type strength Type safety Expression of types Compatibility among composite types Type checking
ActionScript 3.0 strong safe static
Ada strong mostly safe [TS 1] explicit name-based partially dynamic [TS 2]
ALGOL 58 strong safe explicit static
ALGOL 60 strong safe explicit static
ALGOL 68 strong safe explicit property-based static
APL strong safe dynamic
AutoHotkey none
BASIC varies by dialect
BLISS none n/a n/a n/a n/a
BeanShell strong safe name-based dynamic
Boo strong safe implicit with optional explicit typing static with optional dynamic typing
C weak unsafe explicit name-based static
C++ (ISO/IEC 14882) strong unsafe explicit name-based static [TS 3]
C# strong safe[TS 4] explicit name-based static [TS 5]
Clean strong safe implicit static
Clojure strong safe dynamic
COBOL strong static
ColdFusion strong safe implicit dynamic
Common Lisp strong safe dynamic
Curl strong safe name-based
D strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit name-based static
Dylan strong safe dynamic
Eiffel strong safe name-based static
Erlang strong safe implicit dynamic
F# strong safe implicit name-based static
Forth none n/a n/a n/a n/a
FORTRAN strong safe explicit name-based static
GraphTalk weak
Groovy strong safe implicit dynamic
Haskell strong safe implicit with optional explicit typing property-based static
Io strong dynamic
J strong safe dynamic
Java strong safe[26] explicit name-based static
JavaScript weak implicit dynamic
Joy strong safe dynamic
Lua weak safe implicit dynamic
Mathematica strong dynamic
MATLAB M-code dynamic
Modula-2 strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit name-based static
Modula-3 strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit property-based static
Oberon strong safe explicit name-based static and partially dynamic[TS 7]
Objective-C weak explicit static and dynamic[27][clarification needed]
Objective Caml strong safe implicit with optional explicit typing property-based static
Object Pascal (Delphi) strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit name-based static
Oxygene strong unsafe implicit static
Oz strong safe implicit property-based dynamic
Pascal strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit name-based static
Perl 5 weak implicit dynamic
Perl 6 partially implicit [TS 8] dynamic with optional static typing
PHP weak implicit dynamic
Prolog strong dynamic
Python strong safe implicit property-based dynamic
REBOL strong safe implicit dynamic
Ruby strong safe implicit property-based dynamic
S strong dynamic
S-Lang strong safe implicit dynamic
Scala strong partially implicit static
Scheme strong implicit dynamic (latent)
Simula strong safe static [TS 9]
Smalltalk strong safe implicit dynamic
Standard ML strong safe implicit with optional explicit typing property-based static
Tcl dynamic
Visual Basic strong safe implicit with optional explicit typing name-based static
Visual Basic .NET strong unsafe[TS 6] explicit static
Visual Prolog strong safe partially implicit name-based static
Windows PowerShell strong safe implicit dynamic
XL strong safe name-based static
Language Type strength Type safety Expression of types Compatibility among composite types Type checking
  1. Unsafe operations are well isolated by a "Unchecked_" prefix.
  2. Dynamic type checking is used when type safety can not be determined staticly i.E. for tagged types (type extension / inheritance), numeric ranges and array bounds.
  3. with optional dynamic type casting (see dynamic cast)
  4. Safe, but supports unsafe code through an explicit declaration
  5. with optional dynamic type (see dynamic member lookup)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 It is almost safe, unsafe features are not commonly used.
  7. dynamic checking of type extensions i.e. inherited types
  8. explicit for static types
  9. optional for formal and virtual procedures

Failsafe I/O and system calls

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. It is common for novice programmers to forget to add these checks, and even experts occasionally do so—these omissions can lead to erroneous behavior.

Language Failsafe I/O
Ada Yes (exceptions)
AutoHotkey No (global ErrorLevel must be explicitly checked)
C No [FSIO 1]
C++ No [FSIO 2]
C# Yes
D Yes ?
Erlang Yes
Haskell Yes
Java Yes
Lua No (some functions do not warn or throw exceptions)
Mathematica  ?
Objective Caml Yes (exceptions)
Object Pascal (Delphi) Some
Perl No [FSIO 3]
PHP Yes
Python Yes
REBOL Yes
Ruby Yes
S  ?
Scala Yes ?
Standard ML Yes ?
Tcl No
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

Language Statements ratio[28] Lines ratio[29]
C 1 1
C++ 2.5 1
FORTRAN 2.5 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.[30] This chart 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 [31]


Benchmarks

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. See this page about flawed benchmarks and comparisons. The Computer Language Benchmarks Game site 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.

See also

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, Section 6: Subprograms
  3. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 9: Tasks and Synchronization
  4. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3 Annex E: Distributed Systems
  5. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, Section 12: Generic Units
  6. Ada Reference Manual, ISO/IEC 8652:2005(E) Ed. 3, 3.9 Tagged Types and Type Extensions
  7. http://vak.ru/lib/exe/fetch.php/book/gost/pdf/gost-27831-88.pdf
  8. ISO 1538:1984
  9. http://vak.ru/lib/exe/fetch.php/book/gost/pdf/gost-27974-88.pdf
  10. JSR 274
  11. http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/who/dmr/chist.html
  12. http://www.codeproject.com/KB/cs/intro_functional_csharp.aspx
  13. ECMA-334; ISO/IEC 23270:2006
  14. ECMA-367; ISO/IEC 25436:2006
  15. JSR 241
  16. "The Haskell 98 Language Report". http://www.haskell.org/onlinereport/. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  Most Haskell implementations extend the Haskell 98 standard.
  17. 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.
  18. ISO/IEC 10514-1:1996
  19. http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc-4.1.2/gcc/Standards.html
  20. ISO 7185
  21. PHP Manual, Chapter 17. Functions
  22. PHP Manual, Chapter 19. Classes and Objects (PHP 5)
  23. Language changes are done using a formally documented procedure, starting with a Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP)s. Python version releases are accompanied with a Language Reference Manual showing syntax and semantics; a reference implementation, and test suite. These are used to generate other Python implementations such as Jython and IronPython.
  24. http://www.smlnj.org/sml97.html
  25. http://www.tallysolutions.com
  26. Sheng Liang, Gilad Bracha. Dynamic class loading in the Java virtual machine. Volume 33, Issue 10 of ACM SIGPLAN Notices, October 1998.
  27. http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Cocoa/Conceptual/ObjectiveC/Articles/ocStaticBehavior.html
  28. Data from Code Complete. 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.
  29. The ratio of line count tests won by each language to the number won by C when using the Compare to feature at http://shootout.alioth.debian.org/debian/c.php. 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.
  30. From On the Expressive Power of Programming Languages, Matthias Felleisen, ESOP '90 3rd European Symposium on Programming.
  31. Computer Language Benchmarks Game ranking.

Further reading

  • Cezzar, Ruknet. A Guide to Programming Languages: Overview and Comparison. ISBN 978-0890068120. 

External links

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