Python Tops Popular Languages for College Intro Courses

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Python tops the list of most popular programming languages taught in college-level introductory computer science courses, according to new data from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), which seeks to promote computing as a science and profession.

Writing for Communications of the ACM, Philip Guo rounded up the top 39 university computer-science departments, as ranked this year by U.S. News (he didn’t make it 40 because the 40th slot was an eight-way tie). With that list in hand, he parsed out the introductory courses—i.e., those without prequisites and excluding mini-courses and electives—in the CS, CSE, or EECS departments. Of those classes in those departments, a majority taught Python, followed in descending order by Java, MATLAB, C++, C, Scheme and Scratch.

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“[Python] narrowly surpassed Java, which has been the dominant introductory teaching language over the past decade,” Guo wrote. “Some schools have fully switched over to Python, while others take a hybrid approach, offering Python in CS0 and keeping Java in CS1. However, at the high school level, Java is still used in the AP (Advanced Placement) curriculum.”

It’s no surprise that Python tops the list of most-taught programming languages, considering its current popularity among developers and programmers. RedMonk, a tech-industry analyst firm, placed Python near the top of its latest programming-language rankings, just behind Java/JavaScript and PHP; those rankings were based on public data from GitHub and Stack Overflow.

Other lists and rankings, including the TIOBE Index, have placed Python near the top for a number of years. Startups, midsize companies and giants such as Google all rely upon Python and Python Django for everything from database queries to application building. And if you’re going to school for programming, chances are very good that your professors will require you to become familiar with it.

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Image: Communications of the ACM

3 Responses to “Python Tops Popular Languages for College Intro Courses”

  1. I can understand Python being at the forefront of this list as it’s popularity growth is quite high in the field while Java seems to be slipping. What really got my attention though was that the list did not involve Perl? Would that be because Perl is considered outdated and replaced by Python to younger generation programmers?

    Perl has a very extensive set of libraries as well as being the “glue” for everything and being around a very long time.