Updated March 20, 2023
Difference Between C vs C++
C vs C++ is one of the most popular and oldest languages in the programming world. These languages have served as foundations for many modern languages. The main purpose of this blog is to differentiate between C vs C++. But before diving deep into understanding the differences between C and C++.
Let’s first start by knowing a bit about both languages.
C was originally designed for and implemented on UNIX operating system by Dennis Ritchie from 1969 to 1973. While Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ in 1979 after getting inspired by C and Simula. Interestingly, both the founders worked at the Bell Laboratories of AT&T.
C++ is inspired and derived from C, and hence, C++ is a superset of C. We can think of C as a black and white television and C++ as a coloured television.
Both C and C++ have a similar syntax, code structure, compilation, and memory model. All C operators are valid in C++, and most of the C programs can be compiled in a C++ compiler.
Head to Head Comparison Between C vs C++ (Infographics)
Below are the top 18 differences between C vs C++:
Key Differences Between C vs C++
Let’s move on to find some key differences between these two languages in detail :
1. Programming Paradigm
C is a middle-level programming language that binds the gap between machine level languages and high-level programming language. It was mainly designed for writing operating system kernels. Hence, it has been designed as a procedural language, which means it follows a top-down compilation approach. In C, a typical program starts from the main() function and go to the respective function down the order. C is a procedural language that does not support classes and objects. Further, it does not support features like polymorphism, encapsulation, and inheritance.
Let’s try to understand what these terms exactly are. Polymorphism is the ability of an object to take multiple forms. Encapsulation refers to the binding of data and function together. This restricts direct access to the data by any other function. Hence, it tries to make the data more secure. Inheritance is the ability of a child object to acquire all properties of its parent automatically.
On the other hand, C++ is considered as a high-level programming language. It supports both procedural as well as object-oriented programming(OOP) paradigm. C++ has been referred to as “C with classes”. It supports both classes and objects. C++ being an advanced and OOP language, supports features like polymorphism, encapsulation, and inheritance. In C++, data and functions can be encapsulated together in the form of an object. Data is more secure in C++, thanks to the encapsulation.
2. Data Abstraction
C language has a low level of data abstraction. Data abstraction displays only essential information and hides their background details, i.e., hiding all the implementation details. C++ provides a high level of data abstraction as compared to C.
The namespace is an added feature present in C++ but absent in C. Namespaces is a declarative region that provides a scope to the identifiers like the names of types, variables, functions, etc., inside it. It helps in the logical organization of code and prevents name collision.
4. Inline Functions
The original versions of C do not support inline functions. However, some of the latest versions of C does support them. Inline functions are small functions, and they can be directly defined at the point of their calling. C++ supports inline functions.
5. Reference Variables
C++ provides few other things that C++ provides but C does not like; C++ supports both pointers and reference variables while C supports only pointers. In C, we can have only one type of data types, i.e., built-in datatypes. On the other hand, C++ supports both built-in as well as user-defined data types.
6. Exception Handling
C does not allow for direct exception handling, but C++ does with its try and catch blocks. A few other things like, in C structures, we can only have data members, but in C++, we can have both data members and functions.
7. Memory Allocation
Dynamic memory allocation is done differently in both languages. In C, we use malloc() and calloc() functions for memory allocation and free() for deallocation. While using C++, we use a different set of operators like New and Delete for memory allocation and deallocation respectively.
C vs C++ Comparison Table
Let’s discuss the top comparison between C vs C++:
|Basis of Comparison between C vs C++||C||C++|
|Level of Language||Middle-level language.||High-level language.|
|Style of Programming||C supports the procedural programming paradigm for code development.
It does not support classes and objects.
C follows a top-down approach.
It does not support polymorphism, encapsulation, and inheritance.
|C++ supports both procedural and object-oriented programming paradigm.
It supports classes and objects.
C++ follows a bottom-up approach.
It supports polymorphism, encapsulation, and inheritance.
|Point of Emphasis||The major emphasis is on function/method rather than data on the problem.||The major emphasis is on data rather than procedure or function.|
|Encapsulation||C does not support encapsulation.||C++ supports encapsulation.|
|Data abstraction||C provides a low level of data abstraction.||CPP provides a high level of data abstraction.|
|Memory Allocation and Deallocation||Functions such as malloc(), calloc() are used for dynamic memory allocation, and free() is used for deallocation in C.||Operators such as New and Delete are used in C++ for dynamic memory allocation and deallocation, respectively.|
|Input/output standard functions||Scanf() and printf() are used for input and output in C.||Cin and Cout are used for input and output in C++.|
|Overloading||C does not support function or operator overloading.||C++ supports both function and operator overloading.|
|Exception handling||C does not directly support exception handling.||C++ directly supports exception handling. This can be achieved by using try and catch blocks.|
|Data Security||In C, data can be communicated between different blocks of code using global declarations.
Hence, data is less secure in C.
|In C++, data is hidden. The data and function are encapsulated together in the form of an object. So, the data is not accessible to external functions and hence more secure than C.|
|Namespace||The namespace is a feature absent in C.||The namespace is a feature present in CPP. It prevents name collision.|
|Reference variables||C supports only pointers and not reference variables.||CPP supports both reference variables and pointers.|
|Data Types||C supports only built-in data types.||C++ supports both built-in and user-defined data types.|
|Structures||C allows only data members in its structures. C structs cannot have functions.
C structs cannot have static data members.
Struct declaration does not establish a scope in C.
|C++ structures can have both data members and functions.
C++ structs can have static data members.
Struct declaration establishes a scope in C++.
|File extension||File extension in C is .c||File extension in C++ is .cpp .|
|Header File||The header file used in C is stdio.h||The header file used in C++ is iostream.h|
|Inline Functions||C does not support inline function definitions by default.||C++ supports inline functions by default.|
|Usability||C is more suitable for stable programs like writing operating system kernels.||C++ is more suitable for writing programs for applications that work directly with the hardware.|
Comparing C and C++ is like comparing a mobile phone and a smartphone. C can be considered as the foundation of C++. Both languages have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. C is more suitable for writing programs where we need incredible stability. For example, writing kernels of our operating systems. On the other hand, C++ is more suitable for writing programs for applications that work directly with the hardware. For example, writing server-side applications, networking, gaming, and device drivers.
This is a guide to C vs C++. Here we discuss the difference between C vs C++, along with key differences, infographics, & a comparison table. You can also go through our other related articles to learn more –