Similarities and Differences Between C++ and Java

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 June 2022 | Published 6 June 2021

Updated 15 June 2022

Published 6 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

C++ and Java are among the popular programming languages. Although both are object-oriented languages with a similar syntax, there are some major differences between them. Understanding the features and functions of each can help you make an informed career choice and decide on which language to use in a coding project. In this article, we explore the similarities and differences between C++ and Java and review the features and usage of these programming languages.

Why Is It Important To Understand The Difference Between C++ And Java?

It is important to understand the difference between C++ and Java because it enables you to make an informed career choice. Once you understand the difference, you can decide which language you should learn. If you are already working in one of these languages, you can choose to learn the other one too if you feel that it can contribute to your career growth. If your job involves coding or managing projects in both languages, understanding the difference can help you decide which language to use in a given project.

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What Is C++?

C++ is an extension of the C language. It is a cross-platform programming language that gives good control over system resources. Programmers usually use it for developing a system of applications, such as an operating system or a browser. It is an ideal choice for coding for multi-platform systems. However, it has a complex syntax and a wide range of features, which can often be overwhelming for new programmers. Another drawback is that it does not support checking runtime errors, meaning that you cannot detect errors while running the software.

What Is Java?

Java is a general-purpose programming language with very few implementation dependencies. It is much more user-friendly and easier to implement when compared to C++. Programmers use Java for developing client-server applications. It is a loosely coupled language. Once you develop an application in Java, you can run the application on any Java-supporting platform. However, Java is not suitable for coding cloud-based applications. Another drawback is that you need to pay a licensing fee for Java Development Kit.

Similarities Between C++ And Java

Following are some of the prominent similarities between C++ and Java:

  • Object-oriented language: Both are object-oriented languages.

  • Compiler: Both the programming languages use a compiler.

  • Data abstraction: Both languages support data abstraction, meaning that they are capable of hiding the internal details while displaying only the essential information to the user.

  • Data encapsulation: Both languages support data encapsulation, the process of binding the data and functions in a single unit.

  • Polymorphism: Both languages can display messages in several different forms.

  • Static and dynamic binding: Both languages support static and dynamic binding. Static or early binding is resolved at compile-time, while the dynamic or late binding is resolved at run time.

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Differences Between C++ And Java

Following are the major differences between C++ and Java:

Platform dependency

Platform-dependent applications function only in one operating system (OS), whereas platform-independent applications can be implemented across different operating systems. C++ is a platform-dependent programming language. When we write and compile a program in C++, the code is generated as a .exe file, which can run only on a certain OS.

On the other hand, Java is a platform-independent language. When we run a Java program, the Java compiler converts the Java code into an intermediate code, commonly known as bytecode. The Java virtual machine (JVM) then converts this bytecode into native machine code, making it possible to run the Java program on different platforms.

Programming usage

We can use C++ and Java to code similar applications. However, their distinctive features make one language more appropriate for certain applications than the other. C++ is more preferable for system programming because of its efficient computational and data abstraction features. System programming refers to developing programs that work closely with the operating system and enable the hardware to work as an interface between the user and the programmer.

Java is more popular for developing computer, mobile and web-based applications in contrast to the system on which these applications run.

Goto statement

A goto statement is an unconditional jump statement that tells the compiler to go from one point to another within a function. The C++ language supports the goto statement, whereas Java does not.

Multiple inheritance

Inheritance refers to the process of an object automatically acquiring the properties of its parent object. It facilitates code reusability. C++ supports multiple inheritance. We can reuse the members of the parent class without having to define them again. We can also extend and modify the attributes defined in other classes. Java does not support multiple class inheritance. Instead, we need to use interfaces.

Operator overloading

Overloading is the process of creating multiple members with the same name but different parameters. We can overload methods, constructors and indexed properties since these members only have parameters. There are two types of overloading – function overloading and operator overloading. C++ supports both types of overloading, whereas Java only supports function overloading. It does not support operator overloading.

Pointers support

A pointer is a variable that contains the address of some other variable. Pointers also have a data type attached to them, just like regular variables. For example, a pointer with the data type 'integer' holds the address of a variable integer and a pointer with the data type 'character' holds the address of a variable character. C++ offers full support for pointers, allowing us to write pointer programs. However, Java only offers restricted support for pointers. We can use pointers internally but cannot write pointer programs in Java.

'Call by value' and 'call by reference'

In a programming language, we can invoke functions either as 'call by value' or as 'call by reference'. The 'call by value' method uses the value of an argument as the parameter of the function. Hence, changing the parameter of the main function does not affect the argument. The 'call by reference' method uses the address of an argument as the parameter. Hence, changing the parameter affects the argument.

C++ uses 'call by value' as the default method but also supports the 'call by reference' method. Java only supports 'call by value'. It does not use 'call by reference'.

Structures and unions

A structure is a data type that lets us combine different types of data items. We can define a structure using the 'struct' statement. Similarly, a union allows us to store the records of different data types in the same location. Thus, unions help us use the memory more efficiently. We can define a union using the 'union' statement. Structures and unions are both user-defined data types. In C++, we can define structures and unions, but Java does not support them.

Keywords

Keywords are the reserved words. Each keyword denotes some specific features. They act as commands for the program. We cannot use keywords in variable names. C++ has 32 keywords, whereas Java has 52 keywords.

Another point of difference lies in the usage of virtual keywords. A virtual keyword allows us to modify or override a previously applied property, method or declaration. C++ supports virtual keywords. However, there are no virtual keywords in Java. It automatically allows us to override the non-static methods without having to use virtual keywords.

Threading

Threading refers to an application's ability to run several tasks simultaneously. A threaded application contains several parts that are capable of running concurrently. Since each part can independently handle a different task, it helps us use system resources more efficiently. Java has inbuilt support for threading, meaning that we can develop threaded applications in Java. However, C++ does not have inbuilt support for threading. Instead, we need to use third-party libraries.

Memory allocation

Memory allocation in Java happens much faster than in C++ because it has its own garbage collector. We need not do memory management manually. However, in C++ programming, we need to allocate and release the memory manually using the 'new' and 'delete' functions.

Runtime error detection

A runtime error refers to an error that occurs while running the program, in contrast to other types of errors like compile-time errors and syntax errors. Java supports automatic runtime error detection by the system, while in C++, the programmer needs to do it manually.

Exception handling

An exception is an unexpected event that can interrupt the working of a software program. It can terminate the program and throw a system-generated error message. C++ does not support exception handling. However, Java can handle exceptions and can prevent disruption to the normal workflow. It also allows us to display a user-friendly message instead of a system-generated message.

Variable declaration

A variable is a basic unit of memory for storing data in a program. Variable declaration refers to the process of assigning a name and data type to a variable. In C++ programming, we must declare all the variables at the starting point of a block. Java does not restrict variable declaration to one area. We can do it anywhere in the program.


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