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Python Vs C: Complete Side-by-Side Comparison

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13th Feb, 2020
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Python Vs C: Complete Side-by-Side Comparison

Every aspiring programmer is troubled by one question:

“Which programming language should I choose?”

This is undoubtedly the first question that is bound to pop up in your head if you wish to start a career in programming or coding. And while there’s no one answer to this question, we can definitely help to make your choice a tad easier.

Since there are a plethora of top programming languages to chose from, it is easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed. The confusion further escalates with questions like which programing language should one begin their career in, which programming languages are beginner-friendly, which language is the most in-demand right now, and so on. To gain expertise in Python, check out our data science certifications.

Today, we’re going to talk about two of the most extensively used and in-demand languages of the programming world – Python and C. Both Python and C are excellent language choices for beginners and both promise good career options. However, the C vs Python debate has been going on since ages, thanks to the innate differences between C and Python.

We’ll talk in details about both the programming languages while also highlighting the differences between C and Python so that you can get a general idea of what is best for you. 


Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language that was developed by Guido Rossum in 1989. What makes Python amazing is its simple syntax that is almost similar to the English language and dynamic typing capability. The straightforward syntax allows for easy code readability.

Also, being an interpreted language, Python is an ideal language for scripting and rapid application development on most platforms and is so popular with the developers. Scripting languages incorporate both interactive and dynamic functionalities via web-based applications. However, you can use Python in collaboration with software like Py2exe to write complete applications in Python and also convert them into executable programs.

Read: Top Python Tools 2020

Just like Java, Python has a massive collection of standard libraries and packages that allow coders/developers to create functional programs quickly. Furthermore, Python’s interactive interpreter feature lets you test code features while writing it. This is immensely helpful since you can see what a particular code snippet does in real-time and modify it accordingly for desired results. 


C is a structured, mid-level, general-purpose programming language that was developed at Bell Laboratories between 1972-73 by Dennis Ritchie. It was built as a foundation for developing the UNIX operating system. Being a mid-level language, C lacks the built-in functions that are characteristic of high-level languages, but it provides all the building blocks that developers need. C follows the structure-oriented approach, that is, the top-down approach that fragments a program into smaller functions. 

Contrary to Python, C is not a dynamic language that can seamless adapt to script programming. A program written in C comprises various tokens that can be a symbol, or a keyword, or an identifier, or a constant, or a string literal. What makes C unique is that it is optimized for low-level memory management tasks that were previously written in Assembly language (the code follows the hexadecimal format that can directly access memory locations).

This is precisely why C is used in building OS architectures. Even today, both UNIX and Linux derivatives are heavily dependent on C for many functions. 

Over the years, C has improved a lot and still remains one of the most widely used programming languages. It is the founding language of two other programming languages – C++ and Objective-C. A real-life use case of the C programming language is iOS applications that are written exclusively in C.

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C vs Python: Differences between C and Python

We’ve highlighted the significant differences between C and Python in the table below:

As we mentioned at the beginning itself, there’s no one correct choice when it comes to choosing a programming language. The choice of a programming language largely depends on your personal goals and the career outlook you wish to carve for yourself. Both Python and C are in-demand languages that are used by developers and organizations around the world. Hence, both are equally good. C vs Python: Which Is Better?

However, it is true that Python has a short learning curve and is extremely beginner-friendly, unlike C, that is more rigid. This is why most beginners start out with Python as their first choice, and once they’ve mastered it, they move onto learning other languages like C, C++, Java, or Ruby. So, if you are looking for a beginner-friendly language, go for Python and then transition to C. 

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Coming to the performance of written code, C and Python have their unique advantages. For instance, if you wish to write highly processor-intensive applications like 3-D graphics software or video editing software, Python’s built-in memory management functionality is no match for the performance of C.

Then again, C lacks a case selection library which means that you need to create custom functions that won’t be as efficient as the built-in case selection library of Python. The bottom line – despite the differences between C and Python, both have their pros and cons.

Top Data Science Skills to Learn


In the present competitive market, it is not enough to master only one programming language. To be a versatile and competent programmer, you need to master multiple languages. Read more about top data science programming languages of 2020.

If you are curious to learn about data science, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s Executive PG Programme in Data Science which is created for working professionals and offers 10+ case studies & projects, practical hands-on workshops, mentorship with industry experts, 1-on-1 with industry mentors, 400+ hours of learning and job assistance with top firms.


Rohit Sharma

Blog Author
Rohit Sharma is the Program Director for the UpGrad-IIIT Bangalore, PG Diploma Data Analytics Program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the cons of using C?

The mistakes or flaws in the C programming language are not identified after each line of code. Instead, after creating the program, the compiler displays all of the mistakes. In big applications, it makes code checking extremely difficult.

The idea of namespaces is not implemented in C. A namespace is made up of a series of instructions that allow names to be reused in multiple situations. We can't define two variables with the same name without using namespaces.

Constructor and Destructor are not available in C since it lacks object-oriented capabilities. Constructor and Destructor are methods for creating and destroying objects. As a result, in C, you need to manually build and destroy the variable, either via a function or another method.

2Is it simple to pick up C after learning Python?

When you have previous programming expertise, learning a second language is usually simpler. Having prior understanding of Python, on the other hand, isn't going to assist much when it comes to C. This is due to the fact that C's syntax is more complicated than Python's. It's also not straightforward to transition from one programming language to another. C is a programming language that is commonly used in hardware-related applications. While Python is a programming language that may be used for a variety of other purposes. As a result, going from Python to C is a decision to learn a language that is completely unrelated to the prior one.

3When is the use of C the most preferred?

The C programming language is the ideal choice for writing embedded system applications and drivers since it is directly related to machine hardware. C is extensively used for writing system applications in Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems as it is a highly portable programming language. C is a general-purpose programming language that may be used to make business applications, games, graphics, and calculations, among other things. C quickly constructs algorithms and data structures, allowing for quicker program execution. This has allowed C to be used in programs that need more complex computations, such as MATLAB and Mathematica.

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