Why is Python so Popular?

IEEE Spectrum ranks the top programming languages each year. Over the last three years, it has ranked Python in first place out of about 300 other programming languages. The languages in the second, third and fourth spots in 2020 were Java, C, and C++, respectively. In 2014, Python was ranked fourth.

What has driven this rise in Python’s popularity?

Python is an open source programming language, which means that it is not proprietary. The development of open source languages is community-driven and this has led to an impressive growth of libraries in Python. Here is a small sampling of the hundreds of libraries written in Python:

  • FlashText can search documents efficiently for a large number of keywords.
  • SciPy is a library that has modules for optimization, calculus, linear algebra, and statistics.
  • wxPython is a toolkit for making graphical user interfaces.
  • PyTorch and TensorFlow are used in machine learning.
  • NumPy provides mathematical functions.
  • Matplotlib provides plotting capabilities.

Machine learning is a rapidly growing area that is needed in every industry today. Examples include self-driving cars, virtual assistants on cell phones, chat-bots and medical diagnoses. Python is widely used in machine learning due to the large number of libraries available in Python as compared to those in other languages such as R and MATLAB.

Python is easier to learn and use than most other languages as the syntax for the language is simpler than that of several other languages such as Java and C. Python has similar keywords to C and Java, which makes it easier for Python programmers to learn these languages and vice versa.

Another advantage is that Python facilitates both object-oriented programming and procedural-oriented programming. Some languages are strictly object-oriented as Java or strictly procedural as C. In object-oriented languages, the program is composed of objects that invoke their methods to perform operations. In procedural languages, the main task in the program is broken up into smaller tasks called procedures or functions. As Python supports both programming paradigms, it is more flexible and easier to program with.

Python is a versatile language that is used in different types of applications such as website creation, financial analysis and machine learning. Python is widely used to create websites because there are many frameworks that simplify this task such as Django, Flask and Tornado.

You can find more information on the methodology used by IEEE Spectrum to arrive at their rankings at this link.

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