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Popular Programming Languages for Data Science

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Hassan is a data scientist and has obtained his Master of Science in Data Science from Heriot-Watt University.


Data science is booming, and many programming languages can be used for data science. Of course, some are more popular, but all have strengths and weaknesses. In this article, I'll discuss some of the top programming languages for data science.

1. Python

Python is a programming language that is excellent for beginners because, unlike other languages, it doesn't require memorizing as much vocabulary before you can start writing valid code. It's also easy to read, write, and understand. So how does it work in the field of data science?

Python is free and open source, making it attractive to those looking to try data science with a minimal initial investment. It's also popular among large teams of programmers, which makes it a good option if you work in an inherently collaborative environment. In addition, the language's flexibility and ease of use make it simple for beginners to get started. But this flexibility also means that Python can be more vulnerable to threats than other languages.

The standard library and third-party packages available for Python make it easy to do all sorts of tasks with your data. This includes cleaning and exporting it into different file formats, turning your data into graphical representations, and using machine learning algorithms. Its popularity also means many people are working on expanding the number of packages available. This amount of choice can be overwhelming for beginners learning Python but ultimately gives them more options when they set out to solve their data problems.

The Python language was designed to be easy to read and write, making it an excellent choice for beginners. But it's also powerful enough that experienced programmers can create complex programs—like the ones used in scientific research and machine learning—with ease. This means you can get started quickly and then continue learning new skills as you develop your knowledge of Python.

2. R Programming

R is an open-source programming language focusing on statistical analysis, graphics, and the ability to run on multiple platforms. The R programming language is commonly used among data miners and statisticians for developing statistical software and data analysis. The R language is highly extensible through user-created packages for specific functions or areas of study. Many add-on packages are available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), an online archive of R packages.

R is especially suited for data analysis and graphics. It contains an extensive collection of statistical functions available via the base package. A significant number of these functions are written in C++, allowing R to run very efficiently on most systems. R can also be a scripting language for applications that need a programmable interface.

3. Java

Java is a general-purpose language optimized for developing software in low-level systems. It has been used for various applications, including web development, gaming, and mobile application development. However, Java's robust processing capabilities make it an excellent choice for data science. Data scientists can use Java to process data from different sources, analyze the data and create graphs and visualizations.

Java is a solid object-oriented approach that can be applied to numerous real-world problems, and its robustness makes it ideal for applications that require concurrent programming. It is well-suited for large-scale applications running on multi-core processors and easily scalable as each core can handle its processes independently of other cores. In addition, Java's dynamic nature enables developers to add or update existing features in a live environment without restarting the program.

Java's popularity as a general-purpose language makes it an ideal choice for data science since it can be used to solve several different types of problems. In addition, it has strong community support with many accessible frameworks and tools, allowing developers to build scalable applications quickly with minimal effort.

4. Scala

The Scala programming language is an excellent choice for data science projects because it has several essential qualities.

Scala is statically typed, so it's easy to catch errors early in development. Furthermore, the compiler will tell you if you've made an error and suggest fixing it. This is a massive help during the coding phase so that you don't have to spend time in the debugging phase or, even worse, after deployment when you need to fix a bug.

Scala can be used with Spark or Hadoop using Spark's Scala API. In addition, Scala offers functional programming capabilities that allow developers to write concise code that's still very readable. Finding another language that offers this combination of features would not be easy, which makes it advantageous for data science work. Scala also has a great community and is constantly developed by experienced developers. This means you'll have access to an active forum where you can ask questions about Scala or any problems you run into while coding.

The language offers many different ways of solving problems, which makes it very flexible and easy to learn. At the same time, Scala is also compelling and offers many different ways of solving problems. This makes it a great tool for data science work because it allows you to decide how to solve a problem and gives you access to all the tools you need.

5. Julia

Julia is a general-purpose programming language that offers scalable performance, even for large-scale applications. It has been used for projects in finance, web apps, data science, and machine learning. Julia offers several advantages over other languages:

  • Speed of development (Julia can run on a laptop)
  • An easy learning curve, good documentation
  • Community support (Julia is open source).

Julia's syntax resembles MATLAB or Python, which means you can do almost anything with this language—you don't need to rely on external libraries like R or Python if you don't want to (although plenty is available).

6. SQL

The SQL programming language is one of the essential skills in data science and is well-suited to data manipulation tasks that involve large amounts of data. SQL is a declarative language, meaning it's not imperative like some traditional programming languages. Instead of instructing the computer to execute commands or perform operations (which happens in SQL), you create a query that tells the database what you want to be done.

As a data scientist, there are several types of SQL queries you should be able to write and read. These include simple ones that can retrieve data from tables and join multiple tables together, more complex ones that can perform analysis on different datasets, and even aggregate functions that can summarize data across large numbers of rows.

You may also need to write stored procedures using SQL syntax. These provide an interface for working with your database without having to query against it directly. Because they're created ahead of time, stored procedures allow you to execute pre-determined tasks instead of simply pulling information out of tables. For your programs to be able to access the stored procedures, you must create an entry point via special syntax.

7. JavaScript

While there are many languages for doing data science, such as Python, R, and Scala, JavaScript is a bit of a particular case. It's primarily used for front-end development (UI development); it's not really what you'd think about when you think about doing data science. But its popularity for data science has increased recently because of its vast community and rich open-source libraries.

Complicating matters is that there are many ways to use JavaScript for data science. For example, you can use Node to run code on your machine or one of the cloud platforms (such as AWS) to do the same thing. In addition, you can use libraries like R or Python to do some computation in JavaScript, or you could write pure JavaScript to solve your problem. But once you go deeper into the details, it becomes clear that there are many different ways to use JavaScript for data science.



So, which is the best data science programming language? The answer depends on your needs and preferences. You might have been told that Python is an excellent place to start or that R can help you get started quickly with prototyping models. But before you decide, read up on all the options I've covered in this article.

Now go out there and code!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Hassan