Python vs. C++: A Comparison of Key Features and Differences

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Python vs. C++: A Comparison of Key Features and Differences
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Table of Contents
  • C++ vs. Python: General overview
  • What is the Python programming language?
  • What are the key features of Python?
    • 1. Interpreted
    • 2. High-level
    • 3. General-purpose
    • 4. Object-oriented
  • What is the C++ programming language?
  • What are the key features of C++?
    • 1. Object-oriented
    • 2. Compiler-based
    • 3. Reusable
    • 4. High-level
  • What is Python used for?
    • 1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
    • 2. Data analytics
    • 3. Data visualization
    • 4. Programming applications
    • 5. Web development
    • 6. Game development
    • 7. Language development
  • What is C++ used for?
    • 1. Game development
    • 2. Operating systems
    • 3. Machine learning
    • 4. Databases
    • 5. IoT devices
    • 6. Financial tools
    • 7. Medical technology
    • 8. Scientific research
    • 9. Movie production
  • What are the differences between Python and C++?
  • Pros and cons of the Python programming language
    • Advantages of Python
    • Disadvantages of Python
  • Pros and cons of the C++ programming language
    • Advantages of C++
    • Disadvantages of C++
  • Final thoughts on Python vs. C++

C++ and Python, two of the most popular and commonly used programming languages, aren’t only versatile and object-oriented, but they can be used to create a wide array of various programs and functional code.

For this reason, the discussion of Python vs. C++ is an intriguing subject, since both programming languages feature greatly different syntaxes, use cases, and overall approaches to programming. Hence, people find it difficult when choosing between the two programming languages for their software development needs.

Developed from the C language, C++ is considered the better option for large system development, but it is also the harder language of the two to master and write in, which is something that limits its usage.

On the other hand, Python is a high-level programming language. When writing code in Python, a variable can be used directly without being declared, whereas in C++, the program needs to be compiled to every operating system that has to run C++ code. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using C++ vs. Python, along with the highlights, key differences between the two languages, and situations or projects that each language is best for.

C++ vs. Python: General overview

Frequently, you will find articles online that wax eloquent on the qualities of one programming language over another. Quite often, their goal is to promote one language while degrading the other. But the comparison we offer below looks at both Python and C++ as tools with different uses for different problems.

What is the Python programming language?

Python is one of the fastest-growing programming languages. The underlying goal of creating Python was its simplicity. It is one of the simplest languages to learn, given its close similarity to common English. Fundamentally, it is a high-level, interpreted, general-purpose, and object-oriented scripting language.

What are the key features of Python?

1. Interpreted

Like Perl and PHP, Python doesn’t demand program compilation before execution. So, you don’t have to run a compiler that turns source files into compiled class files. Instead, you run a .py file. What’s more, Python byte code compilation is automatic and entirely implicit.

2. High-level

Python is high-level, meaning it is created for programmers who prefer having the written code translated into a low-level language. Python should also be processed before running, which enables its portability—it can run on different kinds of computers with few or no modifications.

3. General-purpose

You can use Python to create nearly any application in almost all fields for various tasks. Whether it is the execution of short-term tasks like software testing or long-term product development that involves roadmap planning, Python can help.

For this reason, the programming language is famous not just among software engineers but also among specialists in fields like data analysis, network engineering, mathematics, and science. Furthermore, Python is also a beginner-friendly scripting language.

4. Object-oriented

Python takes an object-oriented approach toward scripting and powerful code structuring, which allows considering problems in terms of classes and objects. Additionally, Python also supports a procedural paradigm. Developers can create reusable patterns of code, thus mitigating redundancy in development projects.

What is the C++ programming language?

The origins of the C++ programming language lie in another programming language called C, which was developed in 1970. But even though the two programming languages are pretty similar, C++ offers additional features like object-oriented, procedural, or generic programming; the namespace feature; operator overloading; exception and error handling; etc. Therefore, it is safe to say that C++ is an advanced version of C.

What are the key features of C++?

1. Object-oriented

C++ uses objects while programming to help you implement real-time problems based on data abstraction, data hiding, data encapsulation, and polymorphism.

2. Compiler-based

Users can organize data and code into a program that they can understand. The code is then translated by the platform or compiler to the instructions a computer can follow. This makes the whole process fast and efficient.

3. Reusable

Users can reuse code instructions they have written to write out identical functions. Additionally, the data and instructions can be combined into classes that can be built from one another to perform complex functions.

4. High-level

C++ is a high-level programming language, making it easier for users to work with, as it is closely associated with English.

What is Python used for?

Python is a very popular programming language—but why is that, exactly?

Given its many flexible features, Python is used for all sorts of purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the language’s most common use cases.

1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Since Python is a simple, stable, and flexible programming language, it is ideal for various machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) projects. In fact, there are many Python ML and AI libraries and packages available for data scientists.

2. Data analytics

Being easy to learn, flexible, and well-supported, the language is comparatively quick and simple to use for data engineering and analysis. Moreover, it can manipulate data and carry out repetitive tasks when working with large amounts of information.

3. Data visualization

Python is open-source and comes with a vast array of graphing libraries with a variety of features, making it easy to transform data into meaningful insights.

4. Programming applications

Python can be used to program all kinds of applications, from blockchain applications to audio and video apps. The general-purpose language can be used to read and create file directories, GUIs, APIs, and more.

5. Web development

Python’s many web development frameworks, such as Django, Pyramid, and Flask, can be used to create sites and services with ease. Furthermore, the extensive libraries and modules that accompany Python frameworks make functions like content management, database access, and data authorization accessible.

6. Game development

Though the language stands far from the industry standard in game development, Python does have its uses in the gaming industry. It can be used to create simple games, meaning it is ideal to quickly develop a prototype in it.

7. Language development

Python’s simple and elegant interface and syntax inspire the creation of new programming languages.

What is C++ used for?

In the wonderful world of computer science and engineering, there are many coding languages to choose from. And depending on your end goals, some languages are more relevant than others. That’s why we’ll now talk about the many things you can do with C++.

1. Game development

C++ happens to be the many game developers’ favorite programming language to work with. In fact, it was used to develop popular games like Counter-Strike or World of Warcraft. C++ helps optimize resources, meaning developers can adjust how memory allocation and data structures are managed. Additionally, the language allows for multilayer networking.

2. Operating systems

The low-level capabilities of C++ allow developers to structure their code with tiny details that can maximize the efficiency of operating systems. Windows, macOS, and iOS all incorporate C++ programming.

3. Machine learning

Machine learning models powered by a C++ library of calculations help train these models. Sometimes, C++ is used for backend programming in machine learning tools.

4. Databases

Popular database tools like MongoDB and MySQL use C++ for well-designed storage and simpler systems.

5. IoT devices

C++ is an excellent language for IoT applications, as they rely on limited computing resources and constrained power requirements.

6. Financial tools

C++ is reliable and fast, which helps facilitate a high volume of transactions, trades, and financial modeling that demand data stimulations.

7. Medical technology

C++ allows for stimulations and model data, which is ideal for bioinformatics research. Medical tools and applications like lab testing equipment and patient information systems are built with C++.

8. Scientific research

The programming language offers an easy way to organize, analyze, and understand high-value data, making it easy for scientists to analyze data.

9. Movie production

C++ can be used to create special effects and graphics that are often applied in movies. C++ is perfect for these purposes, as it can handle large files with high-quality footage. Furthermore, it can carry out calculations that special effects demand.

What are the differences between Python and C++?

Now, let’s compare the two languages based on various industry metrics, syntax, and general rules of programming.

  • When comparing Python vs. C++, speed is often the first aspect that people think about. C++ has a slight advantage over Python when it comes to speed, as it is pre-compiled, unlike Python, which runs code through an interpreter line by line.
  • In C++, you should allocate memory to new variables and free them after finishing a job. Not doing so can result in a memory leak. As C++ doesn’t offer garbage collection and uses pointers, memory leaks will become evident at some point. However, Python offers automatic memory management, so you don’t have to handle the memory you use directly.
  • Unlike C++, which is statically typed, Python features dynamic typing, meaning you don’t have to indicate the types of objects, which makes it more versatile. Additionally, Python offers a lot of flexibility—its variables can be used in any context.
  • In C++, semicolons are used to register the end of the statement, while Python treats the end of the line as the end of the statement without a semicolon. Nevertheless, you can use the backslash sign to have the statement continue for multiple lines.
  • “Python dictionary” and “C++ map” are two terms that refer to the terminology of the languages. A map in C++ is a container that stores values indexed by a key. While a dictionary in Python has a similar role, it is more flexible because the keys and values don’t have to be the same type.
  • C++ comes with many syntaxes but doesn’t have indentation rules that make the code appear complicated. Python is similar to everyday English, so it is easier to read and write. Hence, its indentation helps a programmer stay aware of every open bracket.
  • Boolean expressions are vastly different in Python and C++. C++ marks are true or false based on numeric values. Everything marked 0 is false, and other numeric values are true. In Python, none and false constants are false as empty sequences or collections.
  • Error handling is easier in C++ than in Python, as you have to declare the type of data when you begin using it with C++. Nonetheless, the code you write in Python is shorter and easier to maintain because you don’t have to declare its type at the beginning.

Pros and cons of the Python programming language

Advantages of Python
  • Python was developed to improve coding productivity. So, it is ideal if you want to work quickly and effectively.
  • It is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, regardless of your experience or skill level.
  • Programmers don’t have to worry about declaring variables or data types, since they’re dynamically typed and automatically assigned during execution.
  • Python is an interpreted programming language, which means the code is executed line by line, and when an issue is found, the whole thing stops running to report the error.
  • Python is a portable language that can efficiently be run on various platforms and programs.
  • Python has a massive standard library, meaning you can find most coding functions without using an external library.
Disadvantages of Python
  • Python tends to be relatively slow, since it executes the code line by line.
  • It is a server-side programming language, and hence it is not quite efficient in mobile computing and browsers.
  • Though Python is simple to use and write, it translates to the programming language using a lot of memory, which can be a disadvantage if you are looking for efficiency.
  • Compared to other technologies, Python’s database is relatively underdeveloped and not very satisfactory to interact with.
  • Python codes should often be tested before execution, since runtime errors are common and the data types of variables keep changing all time.

Pros and cons of the C++ programming language

Advantages of C++
  • C++ is a portable language, meaning it can be used on different interfaces or operating systems to run the same program.
  • It is a multi-paradigm programming language that features a framework a programmer can leverage to code various styles.
  • Being an object-oriented language, C++ makes it easier to sort data, and the code can be reused.
  • C++ allows for low-level manipulation due to its close relation to machine languages. This is beneficial for projects where you need the software to work well with the hardware.
  • The programmer manages memory while using C++, offering you more control.
  • C++ is entirely compatible with the C programming language, meaning any error-free C program can work as a C++ program.
  • It is a language with great scalability. So, it can run on small and large scales based on the program it has been written.
  • There is a large community of C++ users, meaning users get a lot of support, free tutorials, and guides.
Disadvantages of C++
  • Pointers in C++ take up a lot of memory and are pretty tricky to master.
  • Using an object-oriented programming language like C++ comes with many security issues.
  • While you have the ability to control memory management with C++, it lacks a garbage collector feature that automatically filters out unnecessary data.
  • C++ doesn’t support built-in code threads.
  • The object orientation system in C++ is considered quite essential compared to other programming languages.
  • During instances when the data points to the same place from two different starting points, the program can get the coding mixed up.
  • It is often difficult for beginners to learn how to code in C++, since the syntax is complex and the standard library is small.

Final thoughts on Python vs. C++

When it comes to choosing between Python and C++, it usually depends on the kind of software or program you want to develop.

For example, C++ is often used in embedded systems, game development, 3D or visual design programs, as well as for building operating systems or web browsers and portals. On the other hand, Python is a scripting language that is ideal for machine learning contexts, data analysis, and backend web development.

At the end of the day, comparing Python and C++ leads us to one conclusion: Python is easier to use and features a great support system for AI and ML frameworks when it comes to simplicity. However, C++ is much faster performance-wise. After all, Python is an interpreted language, which makes it difficult for it to stand up to a compiled language such as C++.

We hope that you’ll now be able to choose the right language for your next project. However, if you’re still undecided, we encourage you to check out this comparison of Python with various programming languages or other articles in the same series:

STX Next has been successfully leveraging Python since 2005 to deliver unique and highly customized web development projects. Our experts can help you use Python for all sorts of web applications. Reach out to us and let’s discuss your next software project!

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