Python and Java are two of the most popular programming languages around. Being that they’re both relatively old and stable, both have built up a community of thousands of users, extensive collections of third party modules, and more use cases than you could explore in a thousand years.
Just as important, Python and Java are also commonly-recommended languages for beginners to start with. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to know what is Python, what is Java, and how Python and Java are different.
What Is Python Programming?
Maybe you’re looking to start an intellectually-rewarding hobby, or maybe you want to transition into one of the better tech jobs of 2019. In either case, you can’t go wrong learning Python.
Python is designed to be almost as readable as a human language and easier to pick up than other programming languages. It accomplishes this by having an aggressively-simple syntax and a single correct way to do things.
Having one right way might sound stifling, but it not only helps novice coders, it also makes it easier to write maintainable code.
Partly for these reasons, Python has become a language of choice for a variety of fields, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, and web development. The Python community has correspondingly produced a bewildering variety of libraries for these domains.
For data science, you can use the popular statsmodels and sklearn modules, to build neural networks you can use Tensorflow and the Keras API, and for web development there’s always the Django framework.
You could have an entire productive career in programming and never use another language.
What Is Java For?
Java is often touted as the most widely-used language in the world. As it got its start in the mid-1990s, this isn’t hard to believe.
Java is an object-oriented (OO) programming language, meaning it is characterized by the same abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance as other OO languages like Python .
And like Python, Java has thousands and thousands of special-purpose libraries that make common programming tasks much easier. Some good Java libraries include ones for XML parsing, unit testing, processing dates and times, and working with PDFs.
In my own field of data science, Java is one of the top five languages recommended for data science practitioners, behind Python, R, and SQL. Java is well-suited to all the tasks in the standard data science pipeline, including ingesting data, cleaning data, and transforming data.
With these similarities established, let’s examine some of the differences between Java and Python.
How Are Python and Java Different?
While Java and Python are both high-level OO languages, there are some differences between them. Arguably the biggest is that Python is interpreted while Java is compiled. An interpreted language is one that can be run line-by-line, while a compiled language has to be translated into bytecode before it can be executed.
Though both languages have many third party modules to extend their functionality, the core Python library is more extensive than Java’s. This can impact how quickly a novice programmer is able to pick these languages up.
Python can be used for web application development, but Java is one of the two primary languages for the Android platform. As Android is one of the most popular operating systems in the world, this is hardly a small difference. Python can technically be used for mobile app development, but this requires more workarounds.
Depending on your interests and skill levels, either language could be suitable as a first language, and both are worth learning as your development skill grows.