Python continues its streak as the IEEE’s lead programming language for 2022

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While Python is IEEE’s lead programming language, the spotlight is on SQL, which leads the organization’s jobs rankings.

Ryazan, Russia - April 29, 2018: Homepage of Python website on the display of PC, url -
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Python once again headlines the list of the IEEE’s top programming languages for 2022, continuing a streak that began in 2017. It was closely followed by C, C++ and C# along with Java and JavaScript — “the latter buoyed by the ever-increasing complexity of websites and in-browser tools,” wrote Stephen Cass, special projects editor at IEEE Spectrum in a blog post.

The top 10 programming languages on the list are:

  • Python
  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • Java
  • SQL
  • JavaScript
  • R
  • HTML
  • TypeScript

Experts say Python is so popular because it is easy to learn and use. Its functionality includes “high-level built-in data structure, dynamic typing and binding, and object-oriented programming,” said to Sannan Malik. It also helps that Python is available in a large number of libraries for data analysis and machine learning and is compatible with most major operating systems.

SQL rises to the forefront of programming languages

Most notable, Cass observed, is the rising popularity of SQL, which is at No. 1 in the IEEE’s jobs ranking. While it may not be the most glamorous language, “having some experience with SQL is a valuable arrow to have in your quiver,” he said.

“The strength of the SQL signal is not because there are a lot of employers looking for just SQL coders, in the way that they advertise for Java experts or C++ developers,” Cass explained. “They want a given language plus SQL. And lots of them want that ‘plus SQL.’”

SEE: Python Programming Language Cheat Sheet: 2022 Guide (TechRepublic)

He theorized that this is likely because so many applications today involve a front-end or middleware layer talking to a back-end database, often over a network to eliminate local resource constraints.

“Why reinvent the wheel and try to hack your own database and accompanying network interface protocol when so many SQL implementations are available? Chances are there’s probably already one that fits your use case,” said Cass.

Cass goes on to say that “even when a networked back end isn’t practical, embedded and single-board computers can be found with enough oomph to run a SQL database locally.”

The increasing use of databases is another reason SQL dominated IEEE’s job rankings. SQL has become the primary query language for accessing and managing data stored within databases, especially relational databases, which represent data in table form with rows and columns, according to the IEEE.

The ubiquity of databases means that every developer will have to interact with them no matter the field, and SQL is the de facto standard for that, Andy Pavlo, a professor who specializes in database management at Carnegie-Mellon University, explained to the IEEE.

Further, the growth of streaming architecture is another factor contributing to SQL’s rise, the post noted. Whether a programmer codes in Python or C++, it’s becoming more important that their application be able to talk to an SQL database.


Cass defended the IEEE’s inclusion of HTML/CSS as a programming language, explaining that “the tags in its source code are primarily intended as imperatives to do things such as ‘present this text in a table format’ or ‘make this heading larger than the body text.’”

He added that the IEEE lets “pragmatism be our guide.”

The IEEE said data for the rankings is gathered through a combination of manual collection and APIs (application programming interfaces) and combined using an R script. The nine metrics used include Google search, Twitter, Stack Overflow, Reddit, and IEEE’s Xplore Digital Library and jobs site as well as CareerBuilder and GitHub.


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