What are the main differences between Java and CPP?

Welcome, young minds, to the exciting world of programming languages! Today, we will embark on a journey to discover the differences between Java and two other languages called C and C++. You may have heard these names before, and perhaps wondered how they are similar or different. Well, let’s find out!

Programming languages are like special codes that humans use to tell computers what to do. Just like we use words to communicate with each other, programmers use programming languages to communicate with computers. Java, C, and C++ are three popular languages that programmers use to create amazing software and applications.

In this article, we will explore the unique features and characteristics of Java, C, and C++. We will use simple words and examples to help you understand the concepts easily. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to embark on this coding adventure!

First, let’s start by learning a little bit about Java.

Differences between Java and C/C++:

1. Static Programming Languages vs Dynamic Programming Language

Static Programming Languages (C and C++): Static programming languages like C and C++ allocate memory for primitive data types at compilation time. This means that memory is reserved for variables during the compilation process, and it does not change during runtime.

Example in C/C++:

int x = 5;  // Memory for 'x' is allocated during compilation

Dynamic Programming Language (Java): Java is a dynamic programming language that allocates memory for primitive data types at runtime. This means that memory is allocated when objects are created during program execution.

Example in Java:

int x = 5;  // Memory for 'x' is allocated at runtime when an object is created

In Java, memory for primitive data types is allocated dynamically when objects are created, allowing flexibility in memory usage.

2. Preprocessor in C/C++ vs Import Statement in Java

Preprocessor in C/C++: In C and C++, the preprocessor is used to include the predefined library, which is provided in the form of header files. These header files contain function declarations, constants, and other useful information.

Example in C/C++:

#include<stdio.h>   // Including the header file for standard input/output operations
#include<conio.h>   // Including the header file for console input/output operations
#include<math.h>    // Including the header file for mathematical operations

During the compilation of C/C++ programs, the preprocessor performs the following actions:

  • Recognises the #include<> statements.
  • Takes the specified header files.
  • Checks if the header files exist in the C/C++ software.
  • Generates error messages if the specified header files are not found.
  • Loads the specified header files to memory, known as “static loading.”

The preprocessor is necessary in C/C++ to recognize and include the required header files.

Import Statement in Java: In Java, the predefined library is provided in the form of classes and interfaces organised in packages. To use the predefined library, we use import statements to include the required packages.

Example in Java:

import java.io.*;     // Importing the entire java.io package for input/output operations
import java.util.*;   // Importing the entire java.util package for utility operations
import java.sql.*;    // Importing the entire java.sql package for database operations

During the compilation of Java programs, the compiler performs the following actions:

  • Recognises the import statements.
  • Takes the specified package names.
  • Checks if the specified packages exist in the Java software.
  • Raises an error if the specified packages are not found in the predefined library.
  • The compiler does not load any package content to memory at this stage.

During the execution of a Java program, when the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) encounters a class or interface from the specified package, it dynamically loads the required classes and interfaces to memory. This process is known as “dynamic loading.”

Java does not require a preprocessor because it uses import statements and packages instead of header files.

Differences between #include<> statement and import statement:

  1. Availability: #include<> statement is available in C and C++, while the import statement is available in Java.
  2. Usage: #include<> statements include the predefined library provided in header files, while import statements include the predefined library provided in packages.
  3. Loading: #include<> statement performs static loading during compilation, while the import statement performs dynamic loading at runtime.
  4. Recognition: #include<> statements are recognized by the preprocessor, while import statements are recognized by both the compiler and JVM.
  5. Multiple inclusion: A single #include<> statement includes only one header file, while a single import statement in Java can include multiple classes or interfaces from the same package.


#include<stdio.h>  // Including a single header file
import java.io.*;  // Including multiple classes/interfaces from the java.io package

3. Platform Dependency: C/C++ vs Java

Platform Dependent Languages (C and C++): C and C++ are platform-dependent programming languages. This means that the compilation and execution of C and C++ applications need to be performed on the same operating system.

Platform Independent Language (Java): Java, on the other hand, is a platform-independent programming language. This means that Java applications can be compiled on one operating system and executed on another operating system without any modifications.

Differences between .exe file and .class file:

  1. Availability: .exe files are specific to C and C++, while .class files are specific to Java.
  2. Executable Code: .exe files contain directly executable machine code, while .class files contain bytecode. Bytecode is not directly executable; it is an intermediate code that needs the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to execute it.
  3. Platform Dependency: .exe files are platform-dependent, meaning they can only run on the operating system for which they were compiled. In contrast, .class files are platform-independent and can be executed on any operating system that has a compatible JVM.
  4. Security: .exe files are generally considered less secure, as they contain executable machine code. In contrast, .class files contain bytecode, which is more secure as it requires the JVM to interpret and execute the code, providing an extra layer of security.


  • In C/C++:
// Compiling and executing a C program on a Windows operating system
gcc program.c -o program.exe
  • In Java:
// Compiling and executing a Java program on a Windows operating system
javac Program.java
java Program

The same .class file compiled on a Windows operating system can be executed on a Linux or macOS operating system without modification, thanks to the platform-independent nature of Java.

Understanding platform dependency is crucial for developers when choosing a programming language and ensures compatibility and portability across different operating systems.

4. Pointers in C/C++ vs Reference Variables in Java

Pointers in C/C++: In C and C++, variables can store data, such as integers or strings. Additionally, C and C++ provide a special type of variable called a “pointer” that can store memory addresses. Pointers are used to manipulate data through memory locations. They can refer to variables, arrays, structs, or even other pointer variables.

Differences between Pointer Variables and Reference Variables:

  1. Availability: Pointer variables are available in C and C++, while reference variables are available mainly in Java.
  2. Referencing Memory: Pointer variables can refer to a block of memory by storing the address locations of that memory. In contrast, reference variables in Java refer to objects by storing object reference values. Object reference values are hexadecimal forms of hashcodes, which are unique identities provided by the heap manager.
  3. Recognition and Initialization: Pointer variables are recognized and initialized at compilation time in C and C++. On the other hand, reference variables in Java are recognized and initialized at runtime.

Example in C++:

int* ptr;   // Declaration of a pointer variable
int num = 10;
ptr = # // Assigning the memory address of 'num' to the pointer variable

Example in Java:

int num = 10;
int ref = num;   // Initializing a reference variable with the value of 'num'

Understanding the differences between pointer variables in C/C++ and reference variables in Java is important. Pointers in C/C++ provide direct memory manipulation, whereas reference variables in Java serve as a way to refer to objects indirectly.

5. Multiple inheritance is not possible in Java:

1. Single Inheritance: In single inheritance, a class can inherit variables and methods from only one superclass. This means that a class can have one parent class.

For example, let’s consider the following analogy: Suppose we have a class called “Animal.” This class represents common characteristics and behaviors of animals, such as their name and the ability to make sounds. Now, let’s say we have a subclass called “Dog” that inherits from the Animal class. The Dog class will have access to the variables and methods of the Animal class, like the name and sound-making ability. It can also have its own unique characteristics, such as the breed and specific behaviors of a dog.

2. Multiple Inheritance: Multiple inheritance is a situation where a class inherits variables and methods from more than one superclass. However, Java does not support multiple inheritance.

To understand why, let’s imagine a scenario: Suppose we have two classes, “Fruit” and “Color.” The Fruit class has information about various fruits, such as their names and taste, while the Color class contains details about different colors. Now, let’s say we want to create a subclass called “Apple” that inherits from both the Fruit and Color classes. The Apple class would need to access variables and methods from both the Fruit and Color classes, like the name of the fruit and the color of the apple.

However, this can create confusion for the compiler and the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). If both the Fruit and Color classes have a variable called “name,” which value should the Apple class use? Similarly, if both classes have a method called “getColor,” which implementation should the Apple class follow?

To avoid such confusion, Java does not allow multiple inheritance.

Instead, Java offers alternative ways to achieve similar functionality, such as using interfaces or implementing composition, which help maintain simplicity and avoid ambiguity.

Note: In Java, the “extends” keyword is used to indicate inheritance, allowing a class to inherit from only one superclass.

6. Destructors are required in C++, but, Destructors are not required in JAVA:

Creating Objects with Constructors: To create objects in object-oriented programming languages, we use a special feature called “constructors.” Constructors are like recipes that tell the programming language how to create an object. Let’s take an example to understand this better.

Imagine we have a class called “Car” in our program. The class “Car” defines what a car is and what it can do. To create a new car object, we can use a constructor. We might write code like this in Java:

Car myCar = new Car();

In this example, new Car() creates a new car object using the constructor of the Car class. Now we have a car object named myCar that we can work with.

Destroying Objects with Destructors (C++): In some programming languages, like C++, developers are responsible for destroying objects when they are no longer needed. Since C++ doesn’t have an automatic mechanism to destroy objects, it provides a feature called “destructors” to help developers with this task. Destructors are special methods that are called automatically when an object is about to be destroyed. Let’s see an example in C++.

Suppose we have a class called “Book” in our C++ program. We create a book object using a constructor, just like we did with the car example in Java. But when we are done with the book and want to destroy it, we can use a destructor. Here’s an example:

class Book {
  // Class definition here

  // Constructor
  Book() {
    // Code to create a book object

  // Destructor
  ~Book() {
    // Code to destroy a book object

int main() {
  Book myBook; // Creating a book object

  // Some code here

  return 0;
} // Destructor called automatically when the program ends or when myBook goes out of scope

In this C++ example, we have a constructor that creates a book object and a destructor that is responsible for destroying the book object. The destructor is called automatically when the program ends or when the book object goes out of scope.

No Destructors in Java (Garbage Collector): On the other hand, in Java, developers don’t need to worry about destroying objects themselves. Java has a special component called the “Garbage Collector” that automatically takes care of destroying objects that are no longer in use. The Garbage Collector identifies unused objects in a Java application and frees up the memory occupied by those objects.

Let’s revisit our car example, but this time in Java:

Car myCar = new Car();
// Some code here

// When we no longer need the car object, we simply forget about it
// The Garbage Collector will automatically destroy it for us

In Java, we create a car object using a constructor, just like in C++. But when we no longer need the car, we can simply forget about it. The Garbage Collector will automatically destroy the car object when it determines that it’s no longer needed.

7. Operator Overloading is not supported in Java:

Operator Overloading in C++: In C++, we can teach operators how to work with our custom objects. Let’s understand this with a fun example.

Imagine we have a class called “Robot” that represents a cute robot. We want to make our robots “dance” by using the + operator. To do this, we can write a special function inside our Robot class, called “operator+.” This function will explain how the + operator should make the robots dance. Here’s an example:

class Robot {
  void operator+() {
    // Code to make the robot dance
    cout << "Robot is dancing!" << endl;

int main() {
  Robot myRobot;

  +myRobot; // Using the + operator to make the robot dance

  return 0;

In this C++ example, we overload the + operator by defining the function “operator+” inside our Robot class. When we use the + operator with a Robot object, it will call the function we defined and make the robot dance. Isn’t that cool?

Operator Overloading in Java: Unlike C++, Java does not allow us to change how operators work with our custom objects. But don’t worry, Java gives us other ways to achieve similar results. Let’s see how we can make our robot dance in Java.

In Java, instead of overloading operators, we can define special methods that perform specific actions on our objects. Let’s modify our Robot example to work in Java:

class Robot {
  public void dance() {
    // Code to make the robot dance
    System.out.println("Robot is dancing!");

public class Main {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    Robot myRobot = new Robot();

    myRobot.dance(); // Calling the dance() method to make the robot dance

In this Java example, we create a Robot class and define a method called “dance.” When we call the dance() method on a Robot object, it will make the robot dance. Even though we don’t use the + operator like in C++, we can still achieve the same result using a method.

8. Parameter Passing Mechanisms: Call By Value and Call By Reference in C/C++ vs. Call By Value in Java

Let’s imagine you have a toy car and you want to give it to your friend to play with. There are two ways you can do this: either you can give your friend a picture of the car and keep the real car with you, or you can give the actual car to your friend to play with.

In programming C/C++, when we talk about “Call By Value,” it’s like giving a picture of the car. It means that when you pass a value (like a number or a piece of information) to a function or method, a copy of that value is made and given to the function. The original value remains unchanged. It’s like giving a picture of the car instead of the real car.

On the other hand, “Call By Reference” is like giving the real car to your friend. When you pass a reference (like an address or a location) to a function or method, it means you’re giving the actual value, not a copy. So any changes made to the value inside the function will also affect the original value. It’s like giving the real car to your friend to play with.

Now, when it comes to Java, it only follows the “Call By Value” mechanism. This means that when you pass a value to a method in Java, a copy of that value is made and given to the method, just like giving a picture of the car. The original value remains unchanged.

9. Memory Allocation Differences: Integer and Character Storage in C/C++ vs. Java

Imagine you have a box where you can store things. Now, let’s say you have two types of things: small things like pebbles and bigger things like toys. In C and C++, when we talk about storing numbers (integers) in the computer’s memory, they use a smaller box that can hold 2 units of things. It’s like having a small box that can store two pebbles.

On the other hand, when we talk about storing letters (characters) in the computer’s memory, they use an even smaller box that can hold only 1 unit of things. It’s like having a tiny box that can store one pebble.

But in Java, things are a bit different. When Java stores numbers (integers) in the computer’s memory, it uses a bigger box that can hold 4 units of things. It’s like having a larger box that can store four pebbles.

Similarly, when Java stores letters (characters) in the computer’s memory, it uses a slightly bigger box that can hold 2 units of things. It’s like having a bigger box that can store two pebbles.

So, in Java, integers take up more space in the computer’s memory compared to C and C++, and characters also take up a bit more space. This is because Java wants to make sure it can handle larger numbers and different characters with more accuracy and flexibility.

  1. Byte: It takes up 1 byte of memory.
  2. Short: It takes up 2 bytes of memory.
  3. Int (Integer): It takes up 4 bytes of memory.
  4. Long: It takes up 8 bytes of memory.
  5. Float: It takes up 4 bytes of memory.
  6. Double: It takes up 8 bytes of memory.
  7. Char (Character): It takes up 2 bytes of memory.
  8. Boolean: It takes up 1 bit of memory.

10. Character Storage: ASCII vs. UNICODE and Memory Requirements in Programming

Let’s imagine we have a special book where we can write different letters or symbols. In C and C++, when we want to store a letter, we use a small section of the book that can hold one character. This is like having a page in the book dedicated to each letter or symbol.

In C and C++, each letter or symbol is assigned a unique number called an ASCII value. These values are small and can easily fit in one page of the book. So, for C and C++, one page or one byte of memory is enough to store a character because the ASCII values are small.

But in Java, things are a bit different. Java uses a different set of numbers called UNICODE values to represent characters. These UNICODE values can be larger because they cover a wider range of letters and symbols from different languages. So, to store these larger UNICODE values in the book, Java needs a bigger section or two pages of memory, which is equivalent to two bytes.

In summary, in C and C++, one byte of memory is enough to store a character because they use smaller ASCII values. But in Java, which uses larger UNICODE values to represent characters from different languages, two bytes of memory are needed to store a character.

This way, Java can handle a broader range of characters and ensure that characters from different languages are stored correctly.

Comparison of Java and C/C++ Programming Languages

In below table, we will compare the key features and characteristics of Java and C/C++ programming languages. Java and C/C++ are popular languages used for software development, but they have distinct differences in terms of memory allocation, platform dependency, language constructs, and more. The table provides a side-by-side comparison of these languages, highlighting their contrasting aspects. This comparison will help aspiring programmers understand the unique qualities of Java and C/C++ and make informed decisions when choosing the right language for their projects.

Now, here’s the table:

Static vs DynamicStatic programming languageDynamic programming language
Memory AllocationMemory allocated at compilation timeMemory allocated at runtime
Preprocessor vs ImportPreprocessor with #include<> statementsImport statements with packages
Platform DependencyPlatform-dependentPlatform-independent
Pointers vs ReferencePointers used for memory manipulationReference variables refer to objects
Multiple InheritanceSupports multiple inheritanceDoes not support multiple inheritance
DestructorsDestructors required for object cleanupNo destructors, garbage collector used
Operator OverloadingSupports operator overloadingDoes not support operator overloading
Parameter PassingCall by value and call by referenceCall by value
Memory Allocation (Char)1 byte per character2 bytes per character (UNICODE support)


In conclusion, Java and C/C++ are distinct programming languages with their own unique features and characteristics. Java, a dynamic programming language, offers flexibility in memory allocation and utilizes import statements for package inclusion. It is platform-independent, making it versatile for different operating systems.

On the other hand, C/C++ are static languages that allocate memory at compilation time, rely on preprocessor directives for including header files, and exhibit platform dependency. While C/C++ supports pointers and operator overloading, Java uses reference variables and lacks operator overloading.

Additionally, Java employs a garbage collector for object cleanup instead of requiring explicit destructors. Understanding these differences can help programmers choose the most suitable language for their specific projects and requirements.


1. What is the primary difference between Java and C/C++?
The main difference lies in their execution models. Java is a high-level, interpreted language that runs on a virtual machine (JVM), while C/C++ are lower-level languages that are compiled directly into machine code.

2. Which language offers better portability, Java or C/C++?
Java is designed to be highly portable since it runs on the JVM, allowing Java programs to be executed on any platform with a compatible JVM installed. C/C++ code, on the other hand, needs to be recompiled for each specific platform.

3. Can C/C++ programs be used in web development like Java?
While Java is commonly used for web development, C/C++ is typically not used directly for web development. However, they can be utilized for server-side programming or building components that interact with web applications.

4. Which language offers better memory management, Java or C/C++?
Java incorporates automatic memory management through garbage collection, relieving developers from manual memory management tasks. In C/C++, memory management is manual, requiring explicit allocation and deallocation of memory.

5. Are Java and C/C++ equally suitable for system-level programming?
C/C++ is commonly used for system-level programming due to its low-level capabilities, direct memory access, and efficient performance. Java, being a higher-level language, is typically not used for system-level programming.

6. Which language is more suitable for developing mobile applications?
Java has been traditionally used for Android app development, whereas C/C++ can be utilized for both Android and iOS app development. However, modern mobile development frameworks and languages, such as Kotlin and Swift, have gained popularity.

7. Can Java and C/C++ interoperate with each other?
Yes, they can interoperate using technologies like Java Native Interface (JNI) in Java or by exposing C/C++ libraries with a C interface that can be accessed by Java code.

8. Are there differences in the type system between Java and C/C++?
Yes, there are notable differences. Java has a stronger type system with stricter type checking and automatic type conversions, whereas C/C++ offers more flexibility, allowing for explicit type casting and pointer arithmetic.

9. Which language provides better support for multithreading, Java or C/C++?
Java has built-in support for multithreading with its Thread class and synchronized keyword, making it easier to develop multithreaded applications. C/C++ provides lower-level threading constructs that require more manual control.

10. Is there a difference in the availability of libraries and frameworks between Java and C/C++?
Java has a vast ecosystem of libraries and frameworks for various domains, including enterprise, web, and mobile development. While C/C++ also has libraries available, their offerings are generally more focused on system-level programming and specific domains like game development.

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Shalini Vishwakarma


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