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January 26, 2021

Python Popularity Persists, AI Drives PyTorch

George Leopold

via Shutterstock

As the popularity of the Python programming language persists, a user survey of search topics identifies a growing focus on AI and machine learning tasks and, with them, greater adoption of related PyTorch and Tensorflow software libraries.

Other fast-growing programming languages, according to O’Reilly’s annual survey of search terms, include Rust and Go, the Google-backed language favored by developers of cloud infrastructure. While Python, Java and various flavors of the C programming language remain dominant, Go continues to edge higher in O’Reilly’s rankings, up 16 percent on an annual basis.

Meanwhile, Rust surged in popularity, registering a 94-percent growth rate over the past year. However, O’Reilly tempered enthusiasm for the language by noting Rust is starting from a relatively small base of users. Still, the survey notes, Go is emerging as a concurrent programming language while Rust is establishing itself among developers of new operating systems and tooling for cloud operations.

Python remains far and away the most popular programming language, up 27 percent over last year, a healthy rise considering its growing user base. At least some of that growth came at the expense of Java, usage of which slipped 3 percent on an annual basis, according to the survey released Monday (Jan. 25).

While Tensorflow was not listed among programming languages, O’Reilly noted the machine learning library is bound to Python as well as Java, C++ and Javascript.

Source: O’Reilly Media

Also benefitting from the rush to AI was the machine learning framework PyTorch, with usage growth soaring, albeit from a modest base.

Beyond the popularity of programming languages, the survey also identified several emerging trends revealing how programming languages are being applied, including object-oriented programming underpinned by what survey authors call “multi-paradigm,” or hybrid, languages. C++ is one example.

Object-oriented programming grew at a 29-percent clip last year, faster than functional programming. “This suggests that the real story is the integration of functional features into procedural and object-oriented languages,” the survey concludes.

Also emerging are concurrent programming frameworks along with low-code and no-code computing. As Moore’s Law runs out of steam, the survey authors noted, “concurrency will be central to the future of programming,” supporting micro-services, serverless platform and an expanding array of cloud services.

Supporting most of those transitions is Python, the clear leader based on the number of user searches. Other surveys have noted Python is equally popular among rookie code jockeys, with Python tutorials among the leading Google and YouTube searches.

“What we’re seeing within programming languages, AI/ML, data science, IT operations and security provides a forecast on the systems and tools that will fuel innovation in 2021 and beyond,” said Mike Loukides, O’Reilly’s vice president of emerging technology content.

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