Python vs. Java: Differences and Performance Comparison

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Celso Crivelaro
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Celso Crivelaro
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Learn more about the difference between the most well-known programming languages, Java and Python. This should help you decide which direction to go in for your tech project.
Published on
May 24, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Java and Python are two of the most popular programming languages. They also have extensive libraries and impressive cross-platform support. However, that's where the similarities end.

Read this guide to learn about the differences between Java vs. Python. We'll compare both languages' syntax, performance and speed, developer salaries, and more. We'll also cover which language is better for you and Java vs. Python use cases.

What Are Python and Java?

Before we dive into the differences between Python vs. Java, let's look at each language's history.

Python

First released in 1991, Python was created by a Dutch computer programmer, Guido van Rossum. Its design philosophy emphasizes readability and simplicity. Accordingly, it uses an English-like syntax and is widely regarded as one of the easiest programming languages to learn.

Python was also designed to be highly extensible via modules. As a result, you can find Python libraries for almost any application, including artificial intelligence (AI), neural networks, and data visualization.

Java

Java is a computing platform and programming language first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. Its design philosophy is to be lightweight and offer a rich user interface (UI) that can be sent to users on demand.

Secure, robust, and easy to learn, Java is an excellent choice for solving complex problems. It's also platform-independent, which means devs can easily transport it from one system to another.

Java vs Python Differences

As you can see, Java and Python have different design philosophies. They're also very different in terms of syntax, performance and speed, code structure, and developer salaries.

Readability

Python was designed to be readable, concise, and intuitive. Unsurprisingly, many developers prefer Python. According to the TIOBE Index for August 2022, Python is now the hottest programming language, with C and Java in second and third place, respectively.

Meanwhile, Java code tends to be bulky and complex. Luckily, new language features have been introduced to simplify the coding process. Java 9, for instance, empowers developers to structure applications with modules. This allows for better package distributions and increased security.

Syntax

Python has a more concise syntax than Java.

That's because Python is an interpreted language, while Java is compiled. Interpreted languages are more concise since devs can enter lines straight into the terminal. On the flip side, compiled languages like Java need to compile the program to run. This means developers must write a complete program before compiling it.

Python's syntax is also less strict. Only indentation really matters, and there is no compulsion for curly braces or semicolons. In contrast, Java syntax is quite strict — you will get errors if you mismatch curly brackets or miss semicolons.

Python Performance vs Java

Java is generally faster than Python because the former is compiled, while the latter is interpreted. Java directly converts into machine code for execution, while Python uses interpreters to execute programs line by line.

Historically, Java was over 25 times faster than Python, but Python has caught up since the release of Python 3. Nevertheless, Java remains faster, making it the go-to choice for enterprise software and app development.

Typing

Java and Python are both object-oriented programming (OOP) languages, but Java is statically typed, while Python is dynamically typed.

Statically typed languages perform type checking at compile time, while dynamically typed ones run type checking at runtime. In other words, Python scripts can compile even if they have errors that prevent the script from running properly. Meanwhile, Java can't compile until all errors have been fixed.

Statically typed languages like Java also require you to declare the data types of your variables before using them, while dynamically typed languages like Python don't.

Portability

Both languages are highly portable, but Java has the edge due to Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which runs on every platform. It also doesn't require an interpreter, while Python can only run on platforms with interpreters.

Security

Java is generally more secure than Python. It has more advanced access control and authentication functionalities. Whenever Java compiles the code, it tests the script for viruses and malware.

Learning Curve

Beginners tend to find Python easier than Java, thanks to its English-like syntax, dynamic typing, and conciseness. Python also has fewer rules than Java.

Java vs. Python Code Comparison and Examples

As previously covered, Java is much more complicated to write than Python. Here are a few examples.

Readability in Java vs. Python

Java is much harder to read than Python due to its verbosity and syntax. As a result, large Java projects require a lot of effort to debug.

To illustrate, here's how to print "Hello World" in Java:

public class Main

{

public static void main(String[] args){

System.out.printIn("Hello World");

}

}

You can do this in Python by simply typing:

print('Hello World')

Compiling in Java vs. Python

Due to its lack of command-line interpreter, Java requires devs to write a complete program before compiling it. Python doesn't require this.

For example, here's how to add 1+6 in Python:

python

1+6

7

All you have to do is type in 1+6, and the computer will instantly respond with 7.

Here's what the program for 1+6=7 looks like.

public class Print7 (

public static void main(String[] args) {

System.out.println("1+6=" + (Integer.toString(1+6)));

}

}

Type the following to compile it:

java Print5

1+6=7

Declaring Data Types in Java vs. Python

As a statically typed language, Java requires you to declare the data types of variables before using them. Meanwhile, dynamically typed languages like Python don't require this.

For example, here's how you would declare a variable in Java:

int x

x = 2

Python has no mechanism for declaring a variable. A variable is instantly created when you assign a value to it.

x = 2

Java vs. Python Use Cases and When To Use

Java and Python can be used across various fields, including AI, game creation, web development, and mobile applications. However, that doesn't mean they're equally good at everything.

Here's a breakdown of Java vs. Python use cases.

AI

Java and Python can both be used for AI and machine learning (ML) applications, but most developers prefer to use Python for AI and ML projects. Python's simplicity, conciseness, and clarity make scripts easier to write, debug, and test. It also has a broader range of ready-made AI and ML libraries, including:

  • TensorFlow: An end-to-end open-source ML platform, TensorFlow has a flexible ecosystem of libraries, tools, and community resources for building, training, and deploying ML models. Programmers have used TensorFlow to detect respiratory diseases, advance access to human rights information, and enable medical staff to prescribe the right antibiotics.
  • Keras Python: An application programming interface (API) designed for humans, Keras follows best practices for minimizing cognitive load. Specifically, it lowers the number of actions required for common use cases, offers simple and consistent APIs, and provides actionable and clear error messages. It also boasts extensive developer guides and documentation.
  • Scikit-learn Python: This is a free software ML library for Python. It features various clustering, classification, and regression algorithms, including random forests, support vector machines, DBSCAN, and gradient boosting. It interoperates with the Python scientific and numerical libraries SciPy and NumPy.
  • Theano: Theano is a Python library that allows devs to define, evaluate, and optimize mathematical expressions. It features a similar interface to NumPy, transparent GPU use, dynamic C code generation, efficient symbolic differentiation, and speed and stability optimizations.
  • PyTorch: An open-source ML framework, PyTorch accelerates the path from prototyping to production deployment. It also provides easy scaling, cloud support, and frictionless development.

Game Development

Java and Python can both be used for game development, but most devs prefer Java due to its powerful frameworks. Many top mobile games were created in Java, including Minecraft, Asphalt 6, and Mission Impossible III.

Popular Java game development frameworks include:

  • libGDX: libGDX is an Open Graphics Library for Embedded Systems (OpenGL ES)-based cross-platform Java game dev framework for Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, your browser, and iOS. It provides a robust environment for fast iterations and prototyping and does not force a specific coding style or design on you.
  • jMonkeyEngine: A developer-friendly game engine written in Java, jMonkeyEngine has a minimalistic and code-first approach. It's perfect for programmers who want to use a game engine while retaining full control over their code. Creators can also extend and adapt the engine to their workflows.
  • Lightweight Java Game Library (LWJGL): LWJGL is an open-source Java library that enables cross-platform access to APIs useful in the development of audio, graphics, and parallel computing applications, such as OpenGL, Open Computing Language (OpenCL), and Open Audio Library (OpenAL). It provides access to controllers like steering wheels, gamepads, and joysticks.

It's worth noting that Python has several game development frameworks. Unfortunately, these platforms offer fewer modules and integrations than Java equivalents. They also tend to be buggy and lack detailed documentation.

Web Development

Both languages have powerful frameworks for back-end web development, but most developers prefer Java for web development. This is because Java is much faster and more secure than Python.

Widely used Python frameworks for web developers include:

  • Django: A high-level Python web framework that encourages pragmatic design and rapid development, Django streamlines the web development process, giving coders more time and energy to write apps. Django also helps devs avoid common security mistakes.
  • Flask: Flask is a Python micro web framework that lets programmers develop web applications easily. Many big-name companies use Flask, including LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Here are some examples of first-class Java web development frameworks:

  • Spring: An application framework and inversion of control container for Java, Spring makes coding Java easier, quicker, and safer. Developers can use Spring for microservices, cloud applications, web apps, computing, automation, scaling servers, and more.
  • Apache Struts: A free, open-source Java framework for creating modern web applications and sites, Apache Struts is extensible through a plugin architecture, favors convention over configuration, and ships with plugins for AJAX, REST, and JSON support.

Mobile Applications

Java is much better at developing mobile applications than Python. Unlike Python, Java is one of Java's native languages, along with Kotlin and C++. This means developers don't need to download any extra tools or frameworks to create mobile apps — they just have to write Java scripts in Android SDK.

On the other hand, Python mobile development requires programmers to download platforms like Kivy. Creating mobile apps in Python also has other disadvantages, including:

  • Slow startup speed: Since Python is an interpreted language, Python apps take longer to start, especially on old devices.
  • APK size: Python mobile apps tend to be larger than Java apps, even if they don't contain a lot of assets or data. Since you have to package the Python interpreter, the minimum APK size for a Python mobile app is around 7 MB.
  • Lack of native feel and look: Kivy and other Python mobile app platforms have their own graphical frameworks, so they don't look or feel like default Android apps.

Python vs Java: Which One is Better?

Is Java or Python better? There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

If you're interested in creating AI and ML applications, pick Python. Python has numerous top-notch ML and AI libraries for solving real-world problems. It's also simple and easy to code in.

On the other hand, if you're interested in game development, web development, and mobile applications, Java is your best bet — it's fast, secure, and portable.

Recruit Java and Python Developers with Revelo

Java and Python are both powerful languages for developing apps and software.

However, they have different use cases. As a general rule of thumb, Java is better suited for game development, mobile applications, and web development, while Python is the go-to choice for ML and AI applications.

If you're interested in hiring Python and Java programmers, contact Revelo today. We provide access to 300,000 rigorously pre-vetted tech talent in U.S.-adjacent zones.

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