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What is the Difference Between C and C++

As difficult or complicated as all the different types of programming may be, the one factor of coding that we can count on is that the fundamental base of all coding is the same. All programming languages revolve around functions and different units of data; the only difference being the method in which the coder chooses to manipulate, modify and create something new with these elements. Fortunately, it is easy to differentiate between different programming languages, but the one factor that beginners usually get confused about if the difference between C and C++. We know, the names do not make it any easier but that is exactly why this article will help you navigate your way through these coding languages and understand each of them better. To get started, let us see what each of these programming scripts are and what they have to offer.

What is C?

The C programming language is known to be the most basic script that most employers and recruiters look for during interviews, often characterised as the mother of all programming scripts within the coding industry. Since it was developed by Dennis Ritchie in the 1970s, most of the other languages, such as C++, C#, Java, PHP, Python, Java, etc. are directly or indirectly inspired by C. It was initially developed for the implementation of the Unix operating system in the 1970s.

The differences between C and C++ may be aplenty but an exception is a fact that the C programming language has a simple structure. It is extremely flexible and versatile, allowing maximum control with minimum commands. It starts with a directive ‘#include’ that tells the pre-processor to load the code from the file ‘<stdio.h>’ This is followed by a compulsory main function which is required for C to work. We add ‘void’ before the main function to specify the return type of the main function. We follow this with statements that begin and end in curly brackets ‘{ }’ and functions that reside within those statements. For instance, the following is how a basic C structure will look.

A basic C structure

void main()
printf(“this text will be the output of this function”);

Let’s look at some of the applications of C. C is mainly used for developing system software, such as assemblers, databases, compilers, operating systems, text editors, print spoolers, network drivers, etc.

Some of its features are as follows:

  • Given the fact, the C is written in English, or a user-readable code, it can be termed as a high-level language.
  • It is considered to be a structured language as it improves the quality and clarity while reducing the processing time for developing software.
  • The C language has a vast and extensive library that already contains most of the arithmetic and logical operations which are all predefined. Just by including the library we need, we can use their functions without needing to code them separately.
  • Programs written with C are highly extensible.
  • C offer recursion, which is a method by which a coder can just call for a function instead of having to repeatedly type it into the code wherever needed. This highly impacts the processing time and size of the program being developed.
  • C also offers pointers for coders to interact directly with the physical memory of the computer system.
  • C is considerably faster than its predecessors in terms of processing speed and operative quality and ease.

Now that we have become familiar with the C programming language, let us move on to the next step and try to understand what C++ is and what it has to offer.

What is C++?

Why C++, you ask? Well, mainly because it one of the fastest programming languages, to both learn and execute. It is commonly used for game development and business applications. Most of the programs or software that you daily use was most likely written in C++, for instance, Google Chrome or any of the applications in Microsoft Office. One of the reasons that C++ is so incredibly fast is because it is a mid-level language, which implies that C++ can very quickly communicate with the system’s hardware, like the keyboard and the monitor, but is still reasonably easy to program.

Akin to C, C++ was also created at the Bell Laboratories. It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in the late 1970s, following the creation of C. C++ was developed to fill the gaps in programming created by the lack of C’s ability to handle bigger operations. As technology rapidly evolved, the need for bigger and faster programs became imminent and C++ was created to solve just that program. That is why, it was originally named “C with classes.” One of the main features added to C++ was the ‘object-oriented programming’ approach, otherwise known as the OOP approach that was starkly different to that of C. C++ was also considered to be the brainchild of C and another programming language that was used at that time, called Simula 67.

C vs C++

To begin with the comparison, let us first look at the similarities between C and C++ and then head on to the differences.

Similarities between C and C++

  • Both C and C++ are compiled in a similar manner
  • Both C and C++ have the same syntax. Almost all the functions and operators of C are present in C++ to perform similar executions.
  • As a programming language, C++ has more nuanced grammar, but the base is the same as C.
  • The structural codes of both C and C++ are the same.
  • Both C and C++’s memory model is closer to the hardware.
  • Many concepts are present in both languages, such as file-scope, static variables, heap, stack, etc.

As for the latter,

Differences between C and C++

C is a subset of C++ as it cannot run all of the C++ code.C ++ is a superset of C as it can run most of the C code.
C only supports the procedural programming paradigm for its code development.C++ supports both procedural and object-oriented programming paradigms, thus, earning the title of a hybrid language.
Since C does not support OOP, it cannot execute polymorphism, encapsulation and inheritance.C++ on the other hand, can support concepts like polymorphism, encapsulation and inheritance.
In C, data and functions are individual and independent entities.In C++, data and functions are encapsulated together to form an object.
C is a function driven language.C++ is an object driven language.
C does not support function and operator overloading.C++ supports function and operator overloading.
C does not have the ‘namespace’ feature.C++ uses ‘namespace’ which avoids name collisions.
C uses different input/ output functions (scanf and printf)C++ uses different input/ output functions (cin and cout)
C does not support reference variables.C++ does support reference variables.

Hopefully, this article will shine a light on some of the main differences between C and C++ and help you understand both of these concepts better. Nevertheless, don’t let the confusion between the two stray you from the path of learning these two programming languages. Since they are so similar in terms of syntax, learning one of them will automatically give you a head start while learning the other. Happy learning!

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