Python has managed to dominate IEEE’s list of top programming languages for the third consecutive year in 2020. The IEEE Spectrum rankings for this year are out, and the top three programming languages for 2020 remain the same as 2018 and 2019: Python, Java, and C, respectively.
The annual list was made by combining 11 metrics from online sources that have been used to evaluate the popularity of 55 languages. It includes sources such as GitHub, StackOverflow, Google Search, Trends, Twitter, Reddit, etc.
Top Programming Languages In 2020 By IEEE
So these were the 10 most popular programming languages by IEEE, and if you want to check out the complete list, you can refer to this link. (404 error)
Why is Python the undisputed winner?
Now let’s talk about the reason behind Python’s undisputed dominance among programming languages. According to IEEE, one probable cause behind Python’s high ranking is the inflation of its metrics due to the rise in its usage as a teaching language. Many students across the world ask and search for answers to the same elementary questions over and over.
This trend was noticed in the past during the 1980s when BASIC was very visible. There were books, magazines, and even TV programs released that popularized the language, but a fewer number of professional programmers used it in reality (which is comparable to Python). When the home computer bubble burst eventually, so did BASIC’s. However, some advanced programming languages of that era like Microsoft Visual Basic are still surviving among professional programmers.
But one can make two counterarguments to the above: Firstly, the students we are referring to are general users too! So if we pay attention to only what professional coders do, we’d be missing out on a significant chunk of the picture.
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And the second is that, unlike BASIC, Python is used quite frequently in professional space and domains such as Machine Learning — owing to its massive collection of high-quality specialized libraries.
Impact of COVID-19 On Rankings
There is barely anything that wasn’t impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, including IEEE’s top programming languages. If we take a look at the Twitter metric alone, we can see that COBOL is in seventh place. That is simply because Cobol was all over the news in April. The unemployment benefit systems in U.S. states (which run on COBOL) started crashing under the load as workers were laid off due to lockdowns.
Apparently, the majority of these systems were not upgraded since they were created decades ago in COBOL. This led to a crisis of COBOL programmers and a hunt to help shore them up. But it sure did mess up the metrics significantly.