Python vs. JavaScript for AI: Which one should you choose?

by July 18, 2020

Data Science

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at an exponential rate. Businesses are using AI to leverage benefits such as lower costs, increased productivity, and reduced manual errors. Those benefits are so palpable that today, 30% of all companies worldwide are using AI for at least one of their sales processes.

So, it’s only natural if you’re a developer interested in getting into the field. But it’s also natural to ask yourself which language you should choose for programming AI algorithms. After a little digging, you’ll surely find that Python and JavaScript are two top contenders. They are both object-oriented languages that have a host of features with their strengths and weaknesses. So, which one should you choose? Let’s have a look at both.

 

Python

Python is one of the fastest-growing languages. It’s a general-purpose, open-source language that companies use for a variety of applications. Python is an interpreted and high-level language mostly used for working on the backend.

It can also be used as an extension for other scripting languages such as Pearl and Ruby. It allows programmers to code in different styles, both simple and complex.

 

JavaScript

JavaScript is an object-oriented programming language that is used for creating dynamic websites. It’s one of the most widely used languages as it includes functionality that builds on top of what CSS and HTML provide.

Thus, it offers dynamic interactivity for web pages i.e. you can press buttons, enter text, and play games. It also helps to create web applications. You can handle front end as well as back end development through JavaScript.

Naturally, those definitions don’t help that much in deciding which one is the best for AI-based projects. To make that decision, you need to choose a language depending on factors such as your company’s coding standards, the libraries you’re already using, etc.

It also depends on the skillset you have access to. For example, if you have access to skilled JavaScript developers and part of your application is already developed in JavaScript, you should go with it. But if you want to go for added functionality such as neural net and data analytics, Python is preferable.

Let’s have a look at different scenarios where Python and JavaScript differ from each other.

 

Libraries

Python and JavaScript both have machine learning libraries and modules. JavaScript developers add new machine learning libraries frequently. In fact, it now has data generation and computation libraries. JavaScript trains models through node.js and has frameworks like KeraJS, Deeplearn.JS, etc. for machine learning.

Python also has many built-in libraries for data analysis and computations. But the difference is you can also do data cleaning, processing, and analytics functions through its libraries. TensorFlow, Scipy, and Numpy are some libraries that you can use to that effect. Python also has ML frameworks like Web2py and pylon which handle data robustly.

 

Online Support

JavaScript has lots of support modules available online. JavaScript developers constantly update libraries, provide new fixes, and solve issues for other developers.  Python also has a large community of users and developers. They also provide frequent code updates, create libraries and frameworks, and fix bugs for new releases. So, here isn’t a big difference for your decision.

 

Scalability

JavaScript applications are highly scalable. It is because they use node.js for scalability. Node.js scales through an event-based model i.e. instead of using all its resources for processing, node.js waits for requests. While the request is processing, it starts processing other requests simultaneously. JavaScript also supports asynchronous programming i.e. it frees itself to work on other programs while the first one in the queue is running. Once the program is finished, the results get delivered and the second program starts running.

Python doesn’t support asynchronous development and is not scalable in a conventional sense. But it does have coroutines that support asynchronous functionality. Hence it can achieve scalability too.

 

Variable declaration

JavaScript only has floating type variables. It can sometimes hinder the programmer’s ability to create objects. Python has several data types that you can use for variables declaration.such as int, float, fixed int, etc.

 

Cost

If you want to use your data models extensively, you might wish to use JavaScript. Along with using browsers to run training models, it also reduces server handling changes. But

if your application is already primed towards Python, i.e., Python has already solved your business problem, it would make sense to go towards a complete Python solution.

 

Coding experience

Both JavaScript and Python have object-oriented and functional approaches. Both of them have a multi-paradigm approach for programming. However, JavaScript is a little bit harder to code. That is because JavaScript has extra complications such as class definitions, single inheritance problems, etc.

Python is user friendly and relatively easy for coding. It’s a procedural programming language, i.e. it relies on a certain predefined set of steps.  The commands, functions and statements are defined in a sequence. Since the steps are well structured, it’s easy to maintain and review the code.

 

Performance

Performance-wise, JavaScript is a bit faster than Python since the former uses node.js and is built in Chrome V8. JavaScript is also better for applications that require real-time dynamic interaction. It also works on non-block objects. Also, JavaScript can build the whole website, front and back end, and it’s suited for website and ERP applications because of its ability to support both domains.

Programmers mainly use Python for the back end and server-side scripting. Python is also used for analytics and math-intensive projects, as it’s easy to code and can be used to create wide-scale large-sized projects.

 

Conclusion

Python and JavaScript are both highly popular languages. There are plenty of online courses for beginners to understand them. Both have their own use cases and they both are highly sought after, with many job opportunities in today’s market.

To choose one of them, you have to ask yourself, what is your existing infrastructure, which frameworks you are already using, what are your exact business requirements, what’s your budget, and what kind of skilled professionals you have in your company.

Answering these questions will help create your development strategy. It will also lead to a faster product to market. Both Python and JavaScript have vast ML capabilities. Even though more people use Python than JavaScript for AI, both languages have their own pros and cons. For the best result, choose the one that suits you and your business.