Usually, data scientists devote most of their time to either R or Python. R is a programming language created expressly for statisticians and mathematicians, whereas Python has expanded from its initial purpose as a general-purpose language and has gained popularity among those who are unhappy with R’s syntax and limitations.
At present, Python is the most commonly used language for data science, outpacing R which, however, remains very effective and retains a strong foothold in academic circles.
To its detriment, R has gained notoriety for its intricate syntax, numerous non-standardized solutions, and inadequate memory management. Nevertheless, its maturity and the wealth of available scientific libraries and toolkits make it an indispensable resource for data scientists.
Python has its own set of obstacles. The foremost drawback is its deficiency in speed, which may only be a small hindrance for small-scale projects but can become a significant roadblock while dealing with vast amounts of data, such as gigabytes or terabytes.
Despite the alleviation provided by Pandas’ more advanced looping techniques, they are only a stopgap measure. According to one programmer’s suggestion, the optimal approach for looping in Python is to avoid it altogether.
The absence of multithreading support in Python has drawn criticism. Although certain libraries allow concurrent code execution, the Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) ultimately limits the degree to which this is feasible.
One should bear in mind that, despite the proliferation of multi-threaded processors and the demonstrable effectiveness of GPUs in computing, we have yet to fully exploit these computational resources.
Might Julia come to the rescue, then?
Let’s Welcome Julia
In 2023, Jeff Bezanson and a team of collaborators introduced Julia, a programming language they developed. As noted, its purpose was to furnish users with a high-level language that can operate with the same proficiency as C.
As a programming language for mathematics, Julia has gained immense traction in recent times, boasting more than 29 million downloads and implementation in over 10,000 companies across the globe. This is all the more impressive since the language is still quite new, having been established a few decades ago.
As per the TIOBE index, Julia is projected to become a top-50 programming language by 2023, ranking at #35 currently. It is anticipated to ascend to the top 20 by the conclusion of 2023.
Consider Julia in This Way!
The team behind Julia endeavored to build a programming language that combined the adaptability of the GNU General Public License with the swiftness of C, the versatility of Ruby, the mathematical syntax of MatLab, the user-friendliness of Python, and the statistical potency of R. To what degree did these attributes aid in accomplishing their goal?
Julia’s collection is perpetually current.Julia is built with the LLVM compiler framework, giving it optimized performance when executing the program. With sufficient expertise, users can achieve performance on par with C while preserving code legibility.
In this capacity, Julia is dynamic.Julia features an interactive command line akin to Python, enabling users to rapidly experiment with code snippets or formulate one-time scripts.
Julia blends the benefits of both dynamic and static typing.Variables can be assigned specific types, and type hierarchies can be established to anticipate the management of variables of a particular type in general.
Libraries for languages such as Python, C, R, Java, and Fortran can be invoked within Julia.Foreign Function Interfaces (FFIs) are readily accessible for Julia in many of the leading languages. With its incorporation application programming interface (API), Julia can be reached from outside its main language.
Julia’s debugger is exhaustive.If you’re familiar with Python, you’ll find Julia’s debugging tools to be exceedingly intuitive, making them among the most user-friendly options in the sector.
Julia allows for metaprogramming.Much like the Lisp programming language, Julia programs can produce or modify the code of other programs.
Julia is engineered to function efficiently with parallel processing.Julia has been developed to accommodate parallelism, offering support for it from the machine instruction level all the way up to multi-threading, GPU computing, and remote computing.
Julia has a full range of built-in artificial intelligence libraries, and its architecture was purposely built for machine learning. MLJ employs established machine learning methods such as linear models, decision trees, and clustering. To illustrate, Flux is employed for deep learning, while TextAnalysis supplies natural language processing capabilities.
Julia is a formidable and adaptable programming language that merges the mathematical capabilities of R with the intuitive interface and multifarious features of Python. One might consider it to be akin to Python with integrated packages such as SciPy, NumPy, and Pandas.
Data science researchers value Julia’s ease of use. Its ease of incorporation into projects, along with its ability to connect different programming languages, makes it an excellent option for confronting the difficulty of processing massive amounts of data.
Julia Is Not Without Flaws
While we acknowledge the benefits of Julia, we recognise its drawbacks as well. One minor concern we have is that Julia does not adhere to the conventional array indexing practice, instead, it begins at 1.
It’s crucial to note that this choice was intentional to cater to programmers from other maths-based language backgrounds, but it might lead to significant annoyance for those who are used to working with arrays that always begin at zero.
Even though 0-indexing is presently an experimental capability in Julia, it underscores the challenges of designing a language that can meet every demand.
Julia’s biggest drawback is its youthfulness, since its library and repository options are more restricted than those of Python or R. As a result, using Julia necessitates a significant amount of manual coding. However, as the Julia community expands, this issue should become less pronounced. It’s essential to keep this in mind.
Despite this, Julia’s popularity is growing, and it is receiving widespread acclaim. Fortunately, this is not a contest, and having a wider range of tools will assist you in becoming a better data scientist. It’s fantastic to have Julia as well as Python and R.