What is the Difference Between C and C++? Top 5 Distinctions and Features

What is the Difference Between C and C++? Top 5 Distinctions and Features | Information Technology | Emeritus

The difference between C and C++ has long been a topic of debate and intrigue in the tech world. As technology evolves rapidly, the demand for skilled software developers proficient in various programming languages has skyrocketed. Amidst this backdrop, C and C++ have established themselves as two of the most influential languages in software development. Each of them has its own strengths, applications, and intricacies. The significance of these languages in the job market is also evident from the attractive compensation packages offered to developers. However, for many budding developers and even seasoned professionals, distinguishing between the two can sometimes be a tad confusing. Let’s, therefore, dive deep into the difference between C and C++. We will also help you make an informed decision on what works best for you.

In this blog, you will learn: 

  • What is C Language?
  • What are the Prominent Features of C Language?
  • What is C++?
  • What are the Prominent Features of the C++ Language?
  • Main Difference Between C and C++ (Table)
  • Similarity Between C and C++
  • Frequently Asked Questions About the Differences Between C and C++

What is C Language?

When discussing the difference between C and C++, it is imperative to know the origins of both languages. C is a structural or procedural programming language. It was meticulously crafted by Bell Laboratories computer scientist Dennis Ritchie in 1972. C has been instrumental in developing operating systems ranging from Windows, Apple OS, and X to intricate programs like Oracle Database, MySQL, and even the Python interpreter. Notably, being a procedural language, C does not entertain the concepts of Objects or Classes. Its popularity soared due to its impressive execution speed, simplicity, and adaptability. Furthermore, mastering C makes transitioning to other programming languages a breeze. To sum up, it’s essential to note that C is a case-sensitive language, meaning it discerns between uppercase and lowercase letters.

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What are the Prominent Features of C Language?

1. Procedural or Structural Language

C operates as a procedural programming language. Within this framework, the focus naturally shifts to the sequence of operations to be executed. Therefore, methodically breaking down the code into smaller modules ensures that the program’s complexity is consistently minimized. This approach, in turn, aids in crafting clear and concise code, which subsequently becomes easier to debug and maintain.

2. Dynamic Memory Allocation

Transitioning to its memory capabilities, one of the standout features of C is its robust support for dynamic memory allocation. Unlike static memory allocation—where the memory size is predetermined at compile time, dynamic allocation happens during runtime. This adaptability, in essence, proves invaluable for programmers, especially when they’re uncertain about the memory requirements beforehand. Consequently, it ensures efficient memory utilization and can adeptly adapt to the fluctuating needs of various programs.

3. Simple and Portable

C has garnered immense admiration, particularly among novices, for its user-friendliness. At its core, C’s simplicity remains one of its most captivating attributes. The foundational essence of C implies that it serves as a bedrock for numerous other programming languages. Building upon this foundation, learners find it easier to transition to other languages. Furthermore, C’s machine-independent characteristic is a notable boon. It guarantees that code crafted in C can be executed across diverse platforms without significant alterations, thus ensuring unwavering cross-platform compatibility.

4. Rich Library

The expansive library support in C is undeniably another distinguishing feature. Equipped with a plethora of built-in functions, C paves the way for the development of efficient and streamlined code. Furthermore, these user-defined functions from intricate mathematical computations to straightforward input/output operations simplify multifaceted tasks. Consequently, programmers can harness these libraries to curtail the volume of code they pen down, ensuring accelerated development cycles. Moreover, the comprehensive library set can be customized to cater to specific prerequisites, offering a versatile toolkit for developers.

5. Speed

On the performance front, C undoubtedly stands tall among its peers. Its intrinsic ability to operate in close proximity to system hardware ensures that programs scripted in C execute with remarkable swiftness. This speed advantage becomes evident when juxtaposed with interpreted languages like Python or Java. For applications where performance is of the essence, such as real-time systems or intricate game engines, C emerges as the go-to choice for many developers. Moreover, its efficacy and rapidity ensure that applications deliver seamlessly, culminating in an unparalleled user experience.

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What is C++?

C++, initially known as ‘C with Classes,’ is a versatile, object-oriented programming language. Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1979, C++ supports procedural and object-oriented programming paradigms. It, furthermore, inherits the properties of the C language while introducing classes and objects for user-defined data types. Today, C++ is the backbone of various applications, from graphics and operating systems to game development and cloud systems. Tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon heavily rely on C++.

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What are the Prominent Features of the C++ Language?

1. Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) Language

C++ is fundamentally an oObject-Oriented Programming (OOP) language. Within its framework, it naturally integrates properties such as classes, objects, polymorphism, inheritance, and encapsulation. These elements, in turn, play a pivotal role in facilitating effective problem-solving. Moreover, by leveraging these features, developers can ensure that their code remains flexible, adaptable, and scalable, catering to various applications.

2. Compiler-Based

C++, moreover, operates as a compiler-based language. This, in essence, means that C++ programs undergo a compilation process initially. Once compiled, their executable files are subsequently used for execution. This inherent attribute, as a result, gives C++ a speed advantage, especially when compared to interpreted languages like Java and Python. Consequently, applications developed in C++ often exhibit faster response times and enhanced performance.

3. Dynamic Memory Allocation

C++ showcases a feature similar to its predecessor, C. Specifically, C++ supports dynamic memory allocation. This capability, in essence, allows for memory allocation during runtime. In fact, such a feature becomes indispensable, especially when developers face scenarios with unpredictable memory requirements. Therefore, by adapting to these requirements, C++ ensures optimal memory utilization, leading to efficient program execution.

4. Fast and Powerful

When it comes to performance metrics, C++ is widely acclaimed for its speed and computational power. In fact, the compiler-based nature of C++ is intrinsically coupled with an extensive array of built-in functions and data types. This combination, in turn, empowers programmers with a robust toolkit, enabling them to craft efficient and high-performing applications. Whether it’s game development, system software, or real-time simulations, C++ is a formidable choice for developers aiming for peak performance.

5. Additional Features

It’s imperative to note that C++ is not just a standalone language. Instead, it builds upon the foundation laid by C. Moreover, as an extension of C, C++ inherits all its features. This comprehensive inheritance encompasses portability, a rich library set, structured programming methodologies, pointers, and intricate memory management techniques. As a result, developers familiar with C find the transition to C++ relatively seamless, benefiting from the combined strengths of both languages.

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Main Difference Between C and C++

Listed below are some of the primary differences between C and C++: 

Parameter C C++
Programming paradigm Procedural Object-oriented
History Developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972 Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1979
Approach Top-down Bottom-up
Keywords 32 63
Data types Built-in Both built-in and user-defined
File extension .c .cpp
Header file <stdio.h> <iostream.h>
Memory allocation/deallocation calloc(), malloc()/free() new/delete
Access modifier Not supported Supported
Security No specific features Offers data hiding, encapsulation
Reference variable Not supported Supported
Function overloading/overriding Not supported Supported
Exception handling Indirect support Direct support with try-catch
Program division Function-driven Object-driven
Compatibility Can run on a C++ compiler Cannot run on a C compiler
Data and function Separated Encapsulated
Input/output function scanf()/printf() cin/cout
Application development Low-level implementation High-level implementation
Namespace Not supported Supported
Used by MySQL, Windows Kernel, Oracle Database Google Chrome, Microsoft Office

Similarity Between C and C++

Just like there is a lot of difference between C and C++, there are many similarities between these two languages too. Let’s look at a few of them. 

1. Shared Code Structure

Both C and C++ exhibit a strikingly similar code structure. Notably, this inherent similarity ensures that programmers transitioning from one language to the other face a smoother learning curve. Moreover, the foundational syntax in C serves as a blueprint for many constructs in C++, thus making code comprehension more intuitive for those familiar with either language.

2. Common Compilation Process

These languages rely on a common compilation process. In fact, this shared approach means that programs written in either language undergo a series of steps, from preprocessing to linking, before generating an executable file. Consequently, understanding the compilation process in one language naturally provides insights into the other, streamlining the development workflow.

3. Alike Syntax

When it comes to linguistic attributes, the coding syntax between the two remarkably alike. This similarity, as a result, ensures that developers can leverage their knowledge of one language’s syntax when working with the other. Furthermore, common keywords, operators, and control structures between the two languages enhance code readability and maintainability accordingly.

4. C++’s Foundational Grammar Mirrors C

C++’s foundational grammar is a direct reflection of C. While C++ introduces additional features and concepts, its base remains firmly rooted in C’s grammar. This inherent overlap, in turn, means that many of the programming constructs and paradigms in C find their counterparts in C++, thus facilitating a cohesive programming experience.

5. Closely Aligned Memory Model

C and C++ both have memory models that align closely with hardware. Furthermore, this alignment ensures that programs developed in either language can interact efficiently with system hardware, optimizing performance. Moreover, the ability to manage memory directly, primarily through pointers and dynamic allocation, is a shared trait that empowers developers with greater control over their applications.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which Programming Language is More Suitable for Low-Level Programming Tasks?

C is more apt for low-level programming tasks. Its procedural nature and foundational attributes make it ideal for system applications and low-level implementations.

2. What are the Advantages of Using C Over C++?

Surprisingly, C offers several advantages over C++. Its simplicity, speed, and foundational nature make it a preferred choice for system applications and low-level programming. Moreover, mastering C paves the way for learning other languages with ease.

3. How Does Object-Oriented Programming Differ Between C and C++?

While understanding the difference between C and C++, it is important to know that C is a procedural language and doesn’t directly support object-oriented programming. At the same time, C++ is a multi-paradigm language that fully adopts object-oriented concepts such as classes, inheritance, and polymorphism.

4. In Which Scenarios is it Recommended to Use C++ Instead of C?

C++ is recommended for more complex projects that require object-oriented features, security, and scalability. Furthermore, its enhanced features make it suitable for game development, embedded systems, and other high-level implementations.

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In conclusion, understanding the difference between C and C++ is crucial for anyone venturing into the tech world. These languages have shaped the software development landscape, and they continue to influence modern programming. Therefore, if you want to delve deeper and master these languages, consider joining Emeritus’ IT courses to enhance your career prospects.

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Sanmit is unraveling the mysteries of Literature and Gender Studies by day and creating digital content for startups by night. With accolades and publications that span continents, he's the reliable literary guide you want on your team. When he's not weaving words, you'll find him lost in the realms of music, cinema, and the boundless world of books.
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