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Rust vs Python: What Are the Differences?

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10/11/2022 |

6 min read

Piotr Wawryka,

Dominika Reszke

As Rust and Python are both software development smash hits of recent years, Rust vs Python comparison is made pretty often. Many software developers want to know what are the strengths and weaknesses of these two popular programming languages. They also want to know more about Rust vs Python speed, Python and Rust code, and wonder if Rust for Python programmers may be a good option.

The most recent Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey revealed that Rust was dubbed „the most loved language” for the seventh year running, with 86.7% of developers saying that they want to continue using it. Python came sixth in this category (receiving 67.3% of votes) but both Rust and Python lead in the „most wanted” languages category, with 17.6% and 17.59% respectively.

That means that almost the same percentage of software developers worldwide want to work in Python and Rust over the next year but the latter is regarded as significantly better if they indeed start using it.

But what other differences between Python and Rust can we trace? Let’s see.
 

Table of contents:

1. Rust and Python programming languages compared

2. Rust – pros and cons

3. Python – advantages and disadvantages

4. Python vs Rust – which one to choose?

Rust and Python programming languages compared

Comparing Python to Rust, you must keep in mind that – while obviously being different – they are not always worlds apart. They are mentioned together and compared quite often, and one of the reasons for that is that their use cases are sometimes overlapping.

A lot can be said about the two in terms of fundamentals

Python is a high-level, dynamically-typed, garbage-collected general-purpose programming language. It is also known as a multiparadigm programming language that offers a comprehensive standard library.

Rust is also a general-purpose and multiparadigm programming language that puts a high emphasis on security issues. It is a cross-platform language and works well on all three major platforms – Windows, macOS, and Linux.

On top of that, Rust is a compiled language and Python – an interpreted language. Technically, Python is compiled to bytecode which is interpreted.
 

   RUSTPYTHON
Paradigms   A multiparadigm language   A multiparadigm language   
Language typeConcurrent, Compiled, Imperative, Functional, Object-oriented, Impure, Metaprogramming, Procedural, Curly-bracket, Generic, With deterministic memory management   Concurrent, Functional, Interpreted, Imperative, Extension, Impure, Interactive mode, Iterative, Garbage collected, Reflective, Metaprogramming, optionally Object-oriented, Procedural, Scripting   
Use cases   

CLI tools

Operating systems        

Microcontroller applications

Embedded systems

File systems

Data Science

Virtual reality

Games

Web development

Software development

Desktop and server platforms   

Web applications   

Game development   

Artificial Intelligence   

Internet of Things

Complex machine-learning processes

Improper for

       

Beginner developers to learn and use, as it’s more demanding than Python

       

Mobile development

Memory-consuming projects    

Safety-critical systems

Notable users

       

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Firefox, Dropbox, Mozilla, Amazon

    

Facebook, IBM, Intel, Google, Instagram, Netflix, Spotify

       

Rust – pros and cons

In many ways, Rust is close to C++, offering similar – and impressive – performance and tooling. However, it’s known for a couple of strengths that neither C++ nor C provide, namely: code safety, memory safety, and correct memory management (it doesn’t need a garbage collector).

Interestingly, in October 2022, support for Rust code in the Linux kernel, originally written in C, was introduced. The support, covering the initial Rust infrastructure code, was merged into the mainland Linux 6.1 version. 

Safety and speed offered together, are something that makes Rust stand out from many other languages.

In brief, Rust’s highlights include:

  • being safe and reliable
  • being fast and highly-performant
  • functional, logical syntax
  • eliminating memory leaks
  • detecting data races and code errors at compile time
  • backward compatibility
  • being concurrent
  • being portable
  • vibrant community

What may be less advantageous is that this statically typed programming language:

  • is regarded as difficult to learn
  • has a complex syntax
  • requires discipline

Python – advantages and disadvantages

With over three decades of market presence, the good old Python has a lot to offer to its numerous developer fans and users. What they often raise is simply the Python code and a highly readable code structure. There are, however, many other reasons why people still want to use it.
Some of Python’s pros include:

  • easy to use, and install
  • effortless to learn, with a relatively smaller learning curve
  • accessible and simple
  • versatile and extensible
  • well-structured
  • many libraries and frameworks to choose from
  • open-source and free

However, there are some downsides to its use, that cover:

  • speed limitations
  • mobile development weaknesses
  • design restrictions
  • possible security issues
  • runtime errors
  • significant memory consumption

Python vs Rust – which one to choose?

Rust’s success, immense popularity, and users’ affection are impressive but Python’s position as one of the popular programming languages is also strong which is especially noticeable if we take into account that Python has been in the market for over 30 years.

For instance, the TIOBE Index for October 2022, which indicates the popularity of programming languages, showed not only Python’s current dominance but also the language’s rapid rise in ranking over the recent months and years. It reached number 1 in 2021, and a few all-time highs since then. Interestingly, it ranked 28th in 1997, 12th in 2002, 8th in 2012, and 5th in 2017.

Rust’s standings aren’t that impressive, though. In October 2022, Python had a TIOBE popularity rating of a staggering 17.08%, and Rust – only 0.70%. This huge gap between these two languages is certainly something worth paying attention to when making a decision on choosing a programming language for a new software project.

Of course, there is no ideal language for every use case, company, or developer. Python may be just what you need for a variety of use cases, provided that they are non-critical programming projects. It may turn out to be insufficient for safety-critical systems, as Python can „unexpectedly throw a run-time error”. In turn, Rust’s statically and strongly typed nature prevents unexpected code behavior.

If you need assistance in choosing the right programming language for your project, contact Codete now to find out more about the possibilities and limitations of Rust, Python, and other programming languages.

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
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Piotr Wawryka

Piotr has over 5 years of commercial experience writing Python applications. He is a software developer and data scientist at Codete since 2017 and a Ph.D. student at AGH University of Science Technology. His main field of interest is Neural Networks and their practical applications. He gives speeches at meetups and international conferences.

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Dominika Reszke

IT Content Writer with 12 years of professional writing experience. Prefers facts and figures to any kind of fiction.

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