Stack Overflow analysis assesses ‘incredible’ growth of Python

Python’s profile continues to grow – but at what rate? According to David Robinson, data scientist at Stack Overflow, it has a ‘solid claim’ at being the fastest-growing major programming language.

In June, Python became the most visited tag on the developer community site for the first time among high income countries, including hitting top spot in the US and UK and being in the top two almost everywhere else, behind either Java or JavaScript.

This is not a cause for celebration just yet – the slowdown on Java can potentially be attributed to the student off-season – but by using the STL model, which can take into account seasonal trends when predicting, Robinson adds it is “clearly on track” to become the most visited tag in 2018. The only language or platform with anywhere near a similar growth pattern is R, with Go, Rust, and TypeScript showing quicker acceleration but naturally a much smaller size.

Python also shows impressive growth levels in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, albeit still below JavaScript, Java, C# and PHP.

This correlates with data from IEEE Spectrum, which put Python at the top of the charts ahead of C, Java, and C++. The interactive study, which combined 12 metrics with 10 different online sources, was the result of a ‘period of consolidation in coding’, meaning the big languages would stay where they are with the explosion of cloud, mobile and big data applications, according to IEEE.

Yet Robinson explained the reasoning behind his analysis. “We’re not looking to contribute to any ‘language war’,” he wrote. “The number of users of a language doesn’t imply anything about its quality, and certainly can’t tell you which language is more appropriate for a particular situation.

“With that perspective in mind, however, we believe it’s worth understanding what languages make up the developer ecosystem, and how that ecosystem might be changing.”

Part of this changing ecosystem could be down to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, for which Python is a popular choice. As this Quora response notes, Python’s advantages in this realm include fast prototyping and frameworks such as scikit-learn.

You can read the full Stack Overflow blog post here.

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