Differentiating between C++ and Java

Learn the difference between C++ & Java
Learn the difference between C++ & Java

When every one of us was introduced to the world of programming, we were taught about two
main types of programming languages, i.e., procedural programming languages and object-
oriented programming languages. Over many aspects, the Object-Oriented Programming
concept, also known as OOP, is preferred over the former. OOP design is flexible, modular and
abstract making it particularly useful when you create larger programs. It is something every
developer must have in their toolkit. So let’s get into what object-oriented programming is all
about.

Object-Oriented Programming:
The OOP concept is based on objects that represent a real-world entity having both state and
behaviour and classes that serve as a blueprint of related pieces of information. The four main
pillars of object-oriented programming are encapsulation, polymorphism, abstraction and inheritance. The reason why many programmers opt for OOP is that it promotes code reusability, scalability and efficiency.

While talking about the concept of OOP, it is impossible to not mention C++ and Java, the two
big names in the programming community. But aren’t the two languages more or less the same
since they both follow OOP concepts? Not exactly and that’s what we’re going to break down in
this article. We will be seeing the difference between the two languages and help you settle on
one that caters to your needs.

Overview of the languages:
Before perceiving the dissimilarities between C++ and Java, it is crucial that you must have a
basic understanding of both languages. Originally called “C with classes”, C++ was developed by
Bjarne Stroustrup. It adds the OOP concept to C language without significantly changing its
original components. It was developed to provide an easy transition for C developers from
procedural to the object-oriented concept.

Java technology is both a programming language and a platform that was developed by James
Gosling
. It is high level, robust, secured and since it has its own runtime environment (JRE) and
API, it is called a platform. Currently, Java is used in internet programming, mobile devices, e-
business solutions etc., With that in mind, here are the basic comparisons between the two languages with key differences.

Areas of Application:
Being closer to hardware, C++ can easily manipulate resources, provide procedural
programming over CPU intensive functions and it is fast. All of these features make it the
perfect candidate system programming. It is predominantly used in the development of
operating systems, games, GUI-based applications, and many more. Java is mainly used for application programming. Primarily, enterprise application programming is always preferred with Java because of the security and scalability features it offers. Web applications, mobile applications, web servers, and application servers are also developed using Java.

Platform Dependency:
C++ is a platform-dependent language. It follows a WOCA approach which stands for write once
compile anywhere. This signifies that C++ language has the capability of writing a program that
can be compiled on all platforms without modifying its source code but cannot run on just any
platform without recompilation.
On the other hand, Java follows write once run anywhere approach, i.e., WORA, making it platform-independent. It can be developed on any device and after it is compiled into bytecode, it can be run on any device equipped with a Java virtual machine (JVM). This avoids any unnecessary association with the platform on which the program was originally built.

Multiple Inheritance:
Inheritance is a mechanism that allows an object to acquire all properties of its parent or base
object. Typically, there are five types of inheritance in the OOP concept namely single, multiple,
multi-level, hierarchical, and hybrid. C++ supports all five types of inheritance. It is not the same case with Java as it doesn’t support multiple inheritances. Java is a favourite among developers because of its simplicity. Apart from the fact that multiple inheritances are rarely used, the main reason it isn’t available in Java is that it is complex to use and maintain. It may lead to deadly diamond problems. It is essential to note that multiple inheritances can be supported through interfaces in Java.

Constructors and Destructors
Constructors are special functions that perform the initialisation of all objects. It’s called by a
compiler whenever an object is created. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have destructors that are used to destroy the class object whenever it goes out of scope. C++ supports both constructors as well as destructors and both of the functions have the same
name as the class prefixed with a tilde (~). Whereas, Java only supports constructors because of
the availability of its own garbage collection implementation. Constructors in Java also have the
same name as the class but with no prefixes.

Function Overloading & Operator Overloading:
When you have multiple definitions for the same operator name or function name in the same
scope, it is called operator overloading or function overloading respectively. For the operator
overloading to work, at least one of the operands must be a user-defined class object and for
function overloading, the number of parameters or the type of parameters must differ from
each other. C++ supports both function overloading and operator overloading. You can overload most of the in-built operators in C++ with a few exceptions but Java doesn’t support operator
overloading. Avoiding it has made the implementation and specification of Java much simpler.

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Thread Support:
Threads are the smallest sequence of execution within a program that shares the same resources. It is imperative to note that thread itself isn’t a program and it cannot run on its
own. C++ does not support the concept of threads and has to rely on third-party libraries and
operating systems to provide this feature. Unlike many other programming languages, Java
supports in-built threads for multithreading through thread constructor or by instantiating
classes that extend the thread class.

Pointers:
A pointer is a special variable that holds the memory address of another variable that it points
too. They reduce the complexity and length of the program and increase execution speed.
Pointers are one of the most advantageous concepts in C++ that developers make the most out
of. This is not the same case with Java as it doesn’t support pointers. Java is prominently known
for its security and robust nature. Pointers jeopardise security as it is impossible for the JVM to
ensure that code containing pointers is safe without expensive runtime checks.

Memory Management:
Programs need to allocate and deallocate memory for the data it uses and to determine the
the efficiency of a programming language, memory management is an important factor.
C++ has manual memory management and the programmer has to allocate and release the
allocated memory through new and delete functions. Meanwhile, memory management is
controlled by the system through automatic garbage collectors.

Exception Handling:
Exceptions are abnormal events that disrupt the normal flow of the program’s instructions.
Many programming languages are equipped with exception handling techniques to respond to
these exceptions. Both C++ and Java support exception handling but there are some
distinctions worth noting. In C++, the try/catch block can be excluded even if you know that the code might throw an exception. Data types of all objects can throw an exception. On the contrary, if you expect a code to throw an error, it is necessary to include this code under the try/catch block. Only objects of type throwable can throw an exception.

Performance
Performance in terms of speed is an important parameter to consider when it comes to large
scale projects. Since the code must first be interpreted during run-time, Java is considered to be
slower than C++ and that might turn out to be a problem where speed is a necessity. C++ is
compiled to binaries, so it runs immediately and therefore is faster than Java programs. This is
the reason why most games are usually built on C++ where speed comes before security.
When it comes to Object-Oriented programming languages, each one has its own set of pros
and cons. No language is better than the other.

C++ is fast and can be used to develop applications where speed is necessary whereas Java has robust security that can be leveraged when security is the highest priority. Java is also the foundation to Android Development, so if you want to develop Android applications specifically, then Java is the one to go for. Ultimately, it is completely up to your choice to choose the one that serves your needs according to the project you’re working on.

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