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Rust Vs Python: A Comparison

Rust Vs Python: A Comparison

  • Rust is used for game engines and operating systems; while Python is used for web application development and enterprise applications.

“Rust combines compile-time correctness with high performance.”

Designed at Mozilla Research by Graydon Hoare, Rust programming language was introduced in 2010. In 2015, Rust project announced its first stable release– Rust 1.0.  The multi-paradigm, low-level programming language is used for general purposes and focuses on: 

  • Safety 
  • Speed 
  • Concurrency 

As per the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Rust has been the ‘most loved programming language’ since 2016. According to the 2020 survey, as many as 65,000 developers turned to Rust. Even Linux kernel developers proposed writing the new Linux kernel code in Rust.  Developers often compare Rust with programming languages C and C++, for all three of them are devoid of crashes and data jumps and provide control over the memory lifecycle. During a media interview founder Graydon Hoare wrote: 

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“Rust rewrites of C or C++ code can work if there’s sufficient motive and budget and if they’re otherwise appropriate to the technical context…The various modules of Firefox being rewritten in Rust are a case in point: it’s now a hybrid C++-and-Rust program.” 

According to the TIOBE Index for August 2021, Python is the second-most popular programming language globally. As of last year, India itself recorded 8.2 million developers using Python. Moreover, its leadership in data mining and artificial intelligence makes it a preferred choice. 

So does Rust have an edge over Python? 

Rust is known for solving the problems that persist in other popular programming languages like Python and C++ by combining methods from both paradigms. When it comes to Python especially, here are a few key differences:

1| Garbage-collection

One of the biggest advantages of using Rust is that it provides developers with the choice of being able to store data on the stack or on the heap, determining during compilation when memory is no longer required and can be cleaned. The unused data is thus, cleaned without the programmer having to think about allocating and freeing memory. Therefore, allowing efficiency in memory usage and performant memory access. Furthermore, this functionality of not having to run a garbage collector constantly makes Rust projects well fitted for use by other programming languages.

On the other hand, Python has a garbage collector that constantly looks out for memory not in use and cleans it up while the program is running. 

2| Low-level language 

Additionally, the direct access to hardware and memory makes Rust the ideal programming language for embedded and bare-metal development. Rust can be used for writing low-level code. Being a low-level language makes Rust the go-to choice for developers when their resources are limited and it is crucial to ensure that the software doesn’t fail. On the contrary, high-level language Python is more suitable for quick prototypes. 

3| Speed

Programming language Python, although commonly used for data analysis, interprets code line-by-line, making the process slow.  On the contrary, Rust does not compromise on speed. It offers an advantage in this aspect. 

4| Dynamic and static typing

Python is a dynamic type system, thus, making it easier for developers to produce software. On the other hand, Rust is a static type system and requires programmers to specify parameters (function arguments and constants), but inside the function body, it allows Python-like dynamic typing. 

Rust offers a useful feature– None, allowing programmers to handle exceptions at compile-time, making sure the programme runs smoothly at the end user. 

For instance, this following code snippet, Rhea Moutafis demonstrated how a developer can fetch the full name of a person, irrespective of whether they have a middle name or not: 

fn get_full_name(fname: &str, mname: Option<&str>, lname: &str) -> String {

   match mname {

       Some(n) => format!("{} {} {}", fname, n, lname),

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       None => format!("{} {}", fname, lname),

   }

}

fn main() {

   println!("{}", get_full_name("Ronald", None, "McDonald"));

   println!("{}", get_full_name("Dwight", Some("P."), "Eisenhower"));

}

5| Applications

Rust is mainly used for game engines, operating systems, file systems, simulation engines for VR and browser components. Python is used for web application development, enterprise applications and web scraping, among other things. 

Last year, according to O’Reilly’s annual ranking, Rust reported  94 percent year-over-year growth in usage. Microsoft has been experimenting with Rust for secure and safety-critical software components. More recently, Mozilla announced the formation of Rust Foundation, to help the programming language continue to grow and prosper. Mozilla used Rust to build Stylo– the CSS engine in Firefox.  But will Rust be able to take over the popular programming language Python? Only time will tell. 

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