Difference Between C and Java

Difference Between C and Java

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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Jun 26, 2024 17:26 IST

C and Java are two widely used programming languages, each with strengths and weaknesses. Both programming languages serve distinct purposes. The main difference between C and Java is that C follows the top-down approach to develop applications. On the other hand, Java follows the bottom-up approach to developing applications.


This brief article explores the fundamental differences between C and Java programming languages. C is a procedural language that is designed for efficiency, while Java is an object-oriented language that is platform-independent. The article highlights how these languages differ in terms of syntax, performance, and application domains. It is crucial for programmers to understand these distinctions to choose the most appropriate language for their specific projects.

Table of Content

What is the Difference Between C and JAVA?

Parameter C Language Java Language
Language Level Middle-level language High-level language
Programming Paradigm Structural, procedural Object-oriented
Approach Top-down Bottom-up
Compilation Compiled language Interpreted language
Platform Dependency Platform dependent Platform-independent (uses Java Virtual Machine)
Memory Management Manual (functions like malloc, calloc, free) Automatic (garbage collection)
Syntax Variables declared at the beginning of a block Variable declaration is more flexible
Threading Does not support threading Supports multi-threading
Pointers Supports pointers Does not support pointers
Error Handling No built-in exception handling Supports exception handling
Inheritance Does not support inheritance Supports inheritance
File Extensions .c .java
Security Less secure More secure (due to lack of pointers, etc.)
Robustness Less robust More robust (strong memory management)
Applications System applications, embedded systems Enterprise applications, web applications
Popularity Less popular compared to Java More Popular
Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) Features Lacks OOP concepts like polymorphism, encapsulation Fully supports OOP concepts

What is C Programming Language?

The C programming language is a general-purpose, middle-level programming language that is excellent for creating firmware and portable applications while following a top-down approach.

C language was developed at Bell Lab in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie. This language is known as a middle-level programming language as it combines the features of a low- and high-level language. C language is used for various tasks, such as:

  • Developing databases, such as MySQL
  • Constructing an operating system
  • Developing system and desktop applications
  • Developing browsers and their extensions, etc.

Want to Make a Career in C programming? Explore the Online Courses and Certification in C Programming.

Key Features of C Programming

  • Low-level access: C offers direct access to memory and hardware, allowing precise control over the computer's resources. That makes it highly efficient and suitable for writing software like operating and embedded systems.
  • Procedural language: C follows an imperative programming paradigm, focusing on instructing the computer to perform specific actions one after another. That makes it suitable for structured and sequential tasks.
  • Simple syntax: C has a relatively simple and concise syntax, making it easier to learn and understand than other languages. 
  • Static typing: C uses a static type system, meaning variable types are declared and checked before program execution. That helps to prevent runtime errors and provides more control over memory management.
  • Versatility: Despite its low-level access, C can be used for various applications, including game development, graphics programming, and scientific computing.
  • Portability: Well-written C programs can be compiled and run on various platforms with minimal changes, thanks to their standardized nature.
  • Legacy and influence: C is the foundation of many popular languages like C++, Java, and Python. Learning C provides a strong understanding of fundamental programming concepts, making picking up these other languages easier.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of C Programming Languages?

Advantages of C Programming Disadvantages of C Programming
Efficiency: C is known for its efficiency in terms of performance, often used in applications where speed is critical. Complex Memory Management: Manual memory management can be complex and error-prone, leading to issues like memory leaks.
Portability: Programs written in C can be easily ported to different platforms. Lack of OOP: C does not support Object-Oriented Programming, which can make large programs difficult to manage.
Low-Level Access: Provides low-level access to memory, which is beneficial for system-level programming. No Namespace Feature: C lacks a namespace feature, which can lead to name collisions in large projects.
Procedural Language: As a procedural language, it is suitable for understanding the structural approach to problem-solving. Limited Standard Library: The standard library is relatively small, requiring programmers to write their own code for many common tasks.
Powerful and Flexible: C gives a lot of control to the programmer, for instance, through the use of pointers. No Exception Handling: C does not support built-in error handling, making error management less efficient.
Wide Range of Applications: Used in various applications from system software to games. Less Security: Direct memory access increases the risk of security vulnerabilities.
Influential Language: Influenced many other languages and is considered foundational for learning computer programming. Steep Learning Curve: For beginners, C can be challenging to learn due to its syntactical and conceptual complexity.

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What is JAVA?

The Java programming language is a high-level, object-oriented, interpreted, and general-purpose programming language that primarily aims to develop applications for handheld devices using a bottom-up approach.

Sun Microsystems created the Java programming language in 1991, but Oracle Corporation purchased it in 1995. Java is one of the most widely used and popular programming languages, and one of the main reasons is that it can also be used as a computing platform. The Java programming language is also used for a variety of other tasks because:

  • Enables you to create standard programs
  • Allows you to create reusable codes.
  • Excellent performance and user-friendly libraries
  • Allows a program to perform multiple tasks at the same time

Explore JAVA Online Courses and Certifications

Key Features of Java

  • Object-Oriented: Java revolves around objects, encapsulating data (attributes) and behavior (methods) into self-contained units. This approach simplifies coding, improves modularity, and promotes code reuse.
  • Platform Independent: Java programs are compiled into an intermediate bytecode format that can run on any platform with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This "write once, run anywhere" capability makes Java highly portable.
  • Simple and Easy to Learn: Java syntax is designed to be clear and concise, resembling languages like C and C++. That makes it relatively easy for beginners to pick up.
  • Secure: Java has built-in security features like strong type checking, garbage collection, and access control mechanisms, making it difficult to introduce security vulnerabilities.
  • Robust: Java is designed to be reliable and handle errors gracefully. Automatic memory management (garbage collection) prevents memory leaks, and exceptions are efficiently handled to avoid crashes.
  • Multithreaded: Java supports multithreading, allowing programs to run multiple tasks concurrently. This benefits performance and responsiveness in applications that handle multiple inputs or require parallel processing.
  • Rich Library Ecosystem: Java boasts a vast and ever-growing ecosystem of libraries for various purposes, including database access, networking, graphics, and web development. This significantly reduces development time and simplifies complex tasks.
  • Large and Active Community: Java has a massive and active community of developers and resources. This provides abundant support, learning materials, and libraries, making finding solutions and improving your skills easier.
  • High Performance: While not the fastest language on the block, Java has been continuously optimized for performance. With advanced compilers and Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation, Java applications can run efficiently on modern hardware.
  • Scalable and Distributed: Java's object-oriented design and robust libraries make it suitable for developing large and complex applications. Its support for distributed computing allows for building network-aware applications and leveraging multiple machines for enhanced processing power.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of JAVA Programming Languages?

Advantages of Java Programming Disadvantages of Java Programming
Platform Independence: Java's "Write Once, Run Anywhere" approach makes it highly portable across different platforms. Performance: Interpreted and high-level nature can make Java slower compared to natively compiled languages like C or C++.
Object-Oriented Programming: Fully supports OOP, making code more modular, flexible, and adaptable. Memory Consumption: Java's extensive use of objects and the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) can lead to greater memory consumption.
Robust and Secure: Java provides strong memory management, error checking during compile time, and runtime checking (like no pointer support), making it less prone to crashes and security breaches. Look and Feel: The default look and feel of GUI applications written in Java may not always match the native look of a particular operating system.
Rich API: Comes with a large set of standard libraries for various tasks, including networking, database connection, and XML parsing. Verbose and Complex Syntax: Java can be more verbose compared to other languages like Python, which can increase development time.
High-Level Language with Simple Syntax: Relatively easy to learn with a syntax that is easier to understand than some lower-level languages. Garbage Collection: While automatic garbage collection helps in memory management, it can lead to unpredictable pauses in application execution.
Multithreading Support: Java provides built-in support for multithreaded programming, allowing for better utilization of CPU resources. Less Control Over Hardware: Due to its high-level nature, Java offers less control over hardware aspects compared to languages like C or C++.
Large Community and Support: A vast community, numerous resources, and widespread industry acceptance. JVM Dependency: Java programs require the JVM to run, which may not be desirable or feasible in all environments.

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Key Difference Between C and JAVA Programming Language

  • C is procedural, focusing on steps and functions, whereas Java is object-oriented, organizing code into objects.
  • C is closer to hardware, allowing low-level control, while Java is more abstract, handling details for you.
  • C requires manual memory management, while Java automates it for safety and convenience.
  • C code must be compiled for each platform, whereas Java bytecode runs on any platform with a JVM.
  • C is slightly more complex due to its low-level nature, whereas Java is designed for readability.
  • C lacks native object-oriented features, whereas Java fully embraces OOP concepts.
  • C is more susceptible to memory-related vulnerabilities, while Java's security features reduce risks.
  • C can be faster for hardware-intensive tasks, while Java's optimizations make it competitive for most applications.
  • C excels in-system programming and hardware-level tasks; Java shines in web development, enterprise applications, and mobile development.

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FAQs on Difference Between C and JAVA

What are the main differences between C and Java?

The main difference between C and Java is that C follows the top-down approach to develop applications. On the other hand, Java follows the bottom-up approach to developing applications.

Can I run C programs in Java environment or vice versa?

No, C and Java have different runtime environments. C programs need to be compiled for specific platforms, while Java programs compile to bytecode that runs on the Java Virtual Machine.

Which language is better for system programming?

C is generally better for system programming due to its low-level capabilities and efficiency.

How does memory management differ between C and Java?

C uses manual memory management, where the programmer allocates and frees memory, while Java has automatic garbage collection, which handles memory allocation and deallocation.

Which language is more secure, C or Java?

Java is generally considered more secure than C, mainly because it doesn't support pointers directly, which can be a source of security vulnerabilities in C.

Do C and Java support object-oriented programming?

Java is an object-oriented programming language, while C is procedural and does not support object-oriented programming natively.

About the Author
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio