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C++ Vs Java: Difference Between C++ & Java [2024]

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C++ Vs Java: Difference Between C++ & Java [2024]

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a computer programming principle that focuses on building the software design around “objects” instead of logic or function. An object refers to a data field possessing unique attributes (characteristics). Essentially, OOP places more emphasis on the manipulation of objects rather than the logic behind the manipulation.

Even though C++ and Java are both object-oriented programming languages, they are quite different from each other. For instance, C++ draws inspiration heavily from the C programming language and is designed for system development. However, Java is based on a secure and portable virtual machine and is explicitly built for application programming and network computing.

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In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into the C++ vs. Java debate and learn more about the difference between C++ and Java. 

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C++ vs. Java: A brief discussion of their history

What is C++?

C++ is an intermediate-level programming language that combines the features of the C and Simula (first OOP language) programming languages. C++ encompasses both high-level and low-level features, and it was the first programming language to introduce the concepts of Class and Objects. It is compatible with the major platforms, such as Windows, Mac OS, and also UNIX. 

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History of C++

Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ at AT & T Bell Laboratories in the year 1979. Stroustrup had a vision of juxtaposing the best features of C and Simula languages. The idea was to design a language that retains the power of C while also supporting object-oriented programming. Stroustrup developed C++ “with a bias toward system programming and resource-constrained, embedded software applications and large-scale systems. The core highlights of C++ are high performance, efficiency, and flexibility.

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What is the Java language?

Java is a high-level, class-based OOP language that is based on the WORA (write once, run anywhere) principle. This means that compiled Java code can seamlessly run on all platforms without needing any recompilation. Typically, Java applications are compiled into bytecode to run on any Java virtual machine (JVM), irrespective of the underlying system architecture. Java’s syntax is pretty similar to C and C++ – it features lesser low-level dependencies. 

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History of Java

Originally, Java was developed by Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems launched the language as the main component of the Java platform in the year 1995. In 2009, after Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems, it became the owner and host of Java and Solaris, the two top-class assets of Sun Microsystems.

Importance of understanding the differences between C++ and Java

Understanding the differences between C++ and Java is of paramount importance for developers and programmers. Both C++ and Java are popular and powerful programming languages, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. Having a clear grasp of their distinctions empowers developers to make informed decisions when choosing the right language for a specific project or task.

Firstly, understanding the differences in syntax and code structure is crucial. C++ is a statically-typed language with a more flexible syntax, allowing direct memory manipulation through pointers. In contrast, Java follows a more rigid syntax and is strictly object-oriented, promoting a safer coding environment through garbage collection and automatic memory management.

Secondly, comprehending the memory management approaches in both languages is vital. C++ necessitates manual memory management using pointers, which grants developers more control over resources but increases the risk of memory leaks and segmentation faults. Java, on the other hand, employs automatic garbage collection, relieving developers from memory management responsibilities and enhancing overall program stability.

Moreover, understanding the differences in object-oriented programming features is essential. C++ allows multiple inheritance and operator overloading, providing advanced flexibility, but it requires cautious use. Java focuses on single inheritance and interface-based programming, emphasizing a more streamlined and manageable codebase.

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C++ vs. Java: The differences between C++ and Java

Here are the main differences between C++ and Java:

Design

While C++ is primarily designed for system programming, Java is built for application programming and is now extensively used for developing web-based, enterprise, and mobile applications.

C++ and Java have distinct design objectives, shaping their applications in the programming world. C++ was meticulously crafted with a strong emphasis on system programming, granting developers extensive control over hardware resources. This makes it a preferred option for building complex operating systems, device drivers, and resource-intensive applications, such as game engines.

Conversely, Java was purposefully tailored for application programming, focusing on portability and platform independence. The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) lies at the heart of this design, facilitating smooth execution across various platforms. Consequently, Java has become widely popular in web-based development, enterprise software solutions, and mobile applications.

Root hierarchy

As C++ combines procedural and object-oriented programming, it does not have a strict root hierarchy. Java is a pure OOP language that follows a single root hierarchy.

C++ boasts a unique hybrid nature, allowing developers to blend object-oriented programming principles with traditional procedural techniques. By enabling the creation of classes and objects, C++ embraces OOP concepts while still accommodating procedural styles. This adaptability makes C++ highly versatile, catering to diverse programming methodologies and preferences. 

In contrast, Java strictly adheres to the principles of object-oriented programming, exemplifying a pure OOP language with a single root hierarchy. In the Java world, every class directly or indirectly inherits from the “Object” class, establishing a clear and linear hierarchy. This consistency and uniformity in the class structure simplify code organization and promote a cohesive object-oriented approach throughout Java projects. The enforced root hierarchy ensures a consistent foundation for all Java classes, facilitating robust and well-organized software development.

Platform dependency

C++ is a platform-dependent language, but Java is platform-independent. So, you have to compile the C++ source code on every platform. However, once you compile the source code into bytecode for Java, you can efficiently execute it on any other platform. 

Compiler & interpreter

Since C++ is a compiled language, the C++ source code is first compiled into object code and then executed to generate an output. Java is a compiled and interpreted language. The compiled output of a Java source code is a platform-independent bytecode.

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Class relationship

In C++, there’s no stringent relationship between class names and filenames. Thus, you can have multiple classes in a C++ program and set anything as their filename (the filename and class name need not be the same. Contrary to this, Java enforces a strict relationship between the source code class and the filename. So, the class containing the source code and the filename must be the same.

Memory management

Memory management is a vital aspect of programming, and it sets C++ and Java different with their distinct approaches. C++ supports manual memory management. Thus, you need to allocate or deallocate memory manually using the “new” and “delete” functions. Contrarily, Java supports system-controlled memory management.

In C++, developers have direct control over memory allocation and deallocation using the “new” and “delete” functions. While this flexibility allows for precise resource management, it also demands careful handling to avoid memory leaks and segmentation faults.

In contrast, Java embraces a more automated approach to memory management through garbage collection. The burden of manual memory allocation and deallocation is lifted from developers’ shoulders. The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) takes charge of identifying and collecting unused objects, freeing up memory efficiently. This automatic memory management in Java minimizes the risk of memory-related errors and simplifies coding, making it easier for developers to focus on crafting robust and reliable applications.

Inheritance

C++ supports both single and multiple inheritances, but Java only supports single inheritance. For multiple inheritances in Java, you need to use Java interfaces.

Overloading

C++ supports the overloading of methods and operators. This process is known as static polymorphism. Java allows only method overloading.

Virtual keyword

Since C++ features dynamic polymorphism, it uses a virtual keyword with a function to indicate that the particular function can be overridden in the derived class. The virtual keyword concept is absent in Java – only the non-static methods can be overridden by default. 

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Thread support

C++ lacks built-in support for threads, and instead, it relies on third-party libraries for thread support. Unlike C++, Java has built-in thread support. You can inherit any thread class and override the run method.

Pointers support

C++ offers robust support for pointers and allows developers to write powerful programs using pointers. However, Java has limited support for pointers. So, you cannot use pointers in Java as naturally as you can while writing a C++ program.

Documentation comment support

While C++ offers no support for documentation comments, Java supports documentation comments. You can use (/** … */) to create documentation comments for Java source code.

Goto statement

C++ supports the goto statement, whereas Java does not support the goto statement.

Call support

C++ has support for both call by value and call by reference, while Java only supports call by value.

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Conclusion

To conclude, C++ and Java sport numerous differences despite being OOP languages. We hope this article offers you a better understanding of the key differences between C++ and Java. 

If you’re interested to learn more about Java, OOPs & full-stack software development, check out upGrad & IIIT-B’s Executive PG Program in Full-stack Software Development which is designed for working professionals and offers 500+ hours of rigorous training, 9+ projects, and assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.

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Rohan Vats

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Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Q1. Are C++ and C# similar programming languages?

Both C++ and C# (pronounced as C sharp) have similar code structures at a very fundamental level. However, C# was introduced or launched much later than C++. Both are object-oriented programming languages, but C++ is essentially a mid-level language, whereas C# is high-level. C# is mainly used to write code meant to run on the .NET framework. C++ is a very powerful language that can be used to develop operating systems, browsers, games, and console apps. They are compiled languages and are derived from the C programming language; they share many similarities in syntax and symbols.

2Q2. Which is easier to learn – C++ or Java?

Most programming language experts say that Java is easier to learn than C++. The syntax of Java is more straightforward than that of C++, for which beginners find it easy to understand and write code in Java. In the case of C++, the syntax requirements are stringent, which often makes it difficult to write code in a simple manner using this programming language such that it becomes easy to read. The slightest mistake in writing code using C++ can lead to a series of errors in the program. Java is a universal language and can be used to develop different kinds of high-level apps, games and websites.

3 Q3. What are the applications of C++ in the real world?

Starting from developing scientific applications to games, C++ can be used to create multitudes of software applications. Many of the devices that we use every day are programmed using C++ - from our smartphones to computers to video games, and even in space research, the power of this programming language is realized across each and every industrial sector today. Operating systems that we daily interact with, namely iOS, Mac OS and Windows, are created using C++, as well as IoT devices like our smartwatches, many medical appliances, TVs and more. Safari, Chrome, Firefox and several other popular internet browsers are also powered by C++.

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