Appendix A. Comparison of Languages Mentioned

Often when you’re working with a programming language, others will ask why you use that language. Why not use X or Y? X or Y may vary depending on what the person knows and whether they are an avid developer. It is good to understand why they are asking that question, and to think about your reply—why Python? This appendix compares Python to other useful languages so you can answer these questions and gain some insight into our programming choices.

C, C++, and Java Versus Python

When compared with C, C++, and Java, Python is fairly easy to learn, especially for those without a computer science background. As such, many folks who may have started in your same position have built add-ons and helpful tools to make Python more powerful and useful for the data science and data wrangling realms.

As for the technical differences, Python is a high-level language, while C and C++ are low-level languages. Java is high level, but has some low-level qualities. What does this mean? A high-level language abstracts interactions with the computer architecture—that is, it allows you to type code words (say, a for loop or variable definition), which the language then compiles down to code a computer can execute—while a low-level language deals with them directly. Low-level computer languages can run faster than high-level languages and allow for more direct control over a system to optimize things like memory management. High-level languages are easier ...

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