Why Is C Top Language In IEEE Ranking?
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 27 July 2016

IEEE Spectrum has produced its interactive rankings of programming languages for 2016. This year C comes top of the overall list - which you may find somewhat surprising.

 

If you haven't come across this interactive and customisable tool before it's fun to use as well as controversial. In all it covers 48 languages used by four types of developers - Web, Mobile, Enterprise and Embedded.

IEEE1620

 

We were already perturbed by last year's IEEE ranking when Mike James noted that some of its revelations were difficult to fathom, asking:

 why isn't JavaScript the top web language?

This year not only is JavaScript not the IEEE Spectrum top language for the web (it's Java), C has ousted Java as its overall top language. Given the interests of IEEE members, which this ranking is intended to reflect this isn't unreasonable. What is odd is that if you filter out Embedded - where C certainly rules and is the obvious domain for IEEE members and look just any combination including Enterprise and Mobile C still comes top!

This bias isn't due to the source of the data, which comes from a variety of sources used by other language rankings, such as the Tiobe index and sites that report on the popularity of languages for Jobs and in Open source. The bias is introduced into the weight of each data source and this is where the ranking becomes interactive - you can change the mix. 

In addition to the IEEE Spectrum default, premade weightings are available for Trending, Jobs and Open but the fun comes in creating your own Custom weighting.

IEEE16cust

So what is the recipe to put JavaScript as the top web language? We haven't found it yet! 

IEEE16Sq

Is there any way to measure programming language importance without raising an argument?

Probably not. 

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