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How To Nail Your Next Tech Interview

Rust vs. C++: A Comprehensive Comparison for Modern Programming
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Rust vs. C++: A Comprehensive Comparison for Modern Programming

The ongoing argument between Rust and C++ has attracted the attention of developers, resulting in debates about what is a better choice for systems programming. Given that, both Rust and C++ are at the high ends of learning curves compared to more beginner-friendly options, such as Python. Hence, the choice between both relies on their unique applications, strengths & weaknesses. Dive into a comprehensive comparison of Rust vs C++ as we explore the key aspects. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in the article:

  • What is Rust?
  • What is C++?
  • Technical Comparison
  • Making the Right Choice: Rust vs C++
  • Gear Up For Your Next Tech Interview
  • FAQs about Rust vs C++

What is Rust?

Rust is a multi-paradigm programming language created by Mozilla. Unlike C++, it has faster speed and memory safety without relying on a garbage collector. Renowned for its advanced concurrency features, Rust's innovative memory management rejects null and dangling pointers. 

It is Ideal for building device drivers, embedded systems, games, and operating systems like BlogOS and Redox, and it also excels in debugging code before testing. Its runtime code error-checking capability sets it apart, making Rust a preferred choice for developers seeking efficiency and reliability.

Rust was initially developed for the Mozilla Firefox browser, but its efficiency and advantages attracted many C++ developers who began to use Rust instead, commonly for game development.

Salient Features of Rust:

  • Memory management
  • Memory safety
  • Ownership system
  • Polymorphism
  • Speed and performance

What is C++?

C++ is a powerful, high-level, compiled language known for its performance and efficiency. With a complex syntax, it excels in high-speed and concurrent applications, making it popular for operating systems like Microsoft Windows and video game development.

C++ provides extensive control over system resources and memory, allowing developers to get close to the hardware. Its rich Standard Template Library simplifies building diverse applications, from GUI and desktop apps to 3D graphics and games. 

C++ is an extension of C, so it inherits many similarities but offers a bias toward embedded software and large systems.

Salient features of C++:

  • Object-oriented
  • C++ Templates (STL)
  • Operator overloading
  • Inheritance
  • Lambda expressions

Technical Comparison

Choosing between Rust and C++ depends on what you prioritize in your programming needs. Let's take a look at the technical differences:

Memory safety

Memory safety is crucial in programming to prevent bugs and errors related to how a program uses memory. In C++, managing memory manually for performance can be error-prone.

C++ introduced features like RAII to help with memory management, but it doesn't fully solve the problem.

Rust takes a smarter approach by using a system of ownership. This system ensures that each data piece has only one owner at a time. In simple terms, if a part of the code uses some data, Rust ensures that no one else can mess with it simultaneously.


// Rust code illustrating ownership and borrowingfn main() {    let mut s = String::from("Hello, Rust!");    // s is moved to the function and then back, ensuring no data races    modify_string(&mut s);    println!("{}", s);}fn modify_string(s: &mut String) {    s.push_str(", modified!");}‍

In C++, manual memory management is the norm, and developers have greater control over memory but also face a higher risk of memory-related bugs.


// Rust code demonstrating concurrency safetyuse std::thread;fn main() {    let mut data = vec![1, 2, 3];    // Ownership ensures no data races    let handle = thread::spawn(move || {        data.push(4);    });    // Ownership ensures no data races    are handled. Join ().unwrap();    println!("{:?}", data);

In C++, developers typically rely on locks or other synchronization mechanisms to manage concurrent access to shared data.


// C++ code with explicit locks for concurrency
#include 
#include 
#include 
#include 
std::vector data;
std::mutex data_mutex;
void modifyData() {
    std::lock_guard lock(data_mutex);
    data.push_back(4);
}
int main() {
    std::thread t(modifyData);
    // Locks are necessary to avoid data races
    t.join();
    std::cout << "Data: ";
    for (const auto& item : data) {
        std::cout << item << " ";
    }
    std::cout << std::endl;
}


Pointers

Pointers are the guides that hold the address of specific data in a program. They "point to" where other data is stored. Smart pointers, on the other hand, are like upgraded guides with extra information and abilities. 

In C++, there are smart pointers called std::shared_ptr and std::unique_ptr. They are the smarter guides, providing additional features. 

Rust also has its own set of smart pointers in the standard library, such as the reference counting smart pointer type.

C++ Smart Pointers Example:


#include #include int main() {    // Using std::shared_ptr as a smart pointer    std::shared_ptr shared pointer = std::make_shared(42);    // Using std::unique_ptr as another smart pointer    std::unique_ptr uniquePointer = std::make_unique(3.14);    // Both smart pointer automatically manage memory; no need to worry about cleanup    return 0;}

Rust Smart Pointers Example:

Frameworks and libraries

C++

In C++, the main library is the Standard Library, providing a set of tools and functions for various tasks. 

 Example of using a C++ library:


#include 
#include 
int main() {    
// Using the C++ Standard Library to work with vectors    
std::vector numbers = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5};    
// Displaying elements in the vector    
for (int num: numbers) {       
 std::cout << num << " ";    
}    
return 0;
}

Rust

In Rust, even though it's younger than C++, some frameworks and libraries provide functionality for different purposes. Here's a brief look at Rust frameworks and a simple example using one:

Rust Frameworks:
  • Rocket: A fast web framework for security, speed, and flexibility.
  • Nickel: A framework for developing user-friendly information flow control systems.
  • Azul: A Rust-based immediate-mode GUI framework for desktop applications.
Rust Library Example

// Using a Rust library (std::collections) for working with vectors

fn main() {    // Creating a vector of integers    let numbers = vec![1, 2, 3, 4, 5];    // Printing each element in the vector    for num in numbers.iter() {        println!("{}", num);    }}

Compile Time

Both C++ and Rust are in a similar ballpark regarding full build times. However, C++ might slow down a bit when dealing with many templates. C++ works better in incremental compilation, making it faster. Rust, on the other hand, is known for its friendly compiler. It provides clear error messages and excellent tooling support.

Ease of Use

In terms of ease of use, many users find Rust more friendly. Its well-defined semantics and ability to prevent unwanted behavior make it easier for developers. 

C++, with its multitude of features, C++ can be challenging to the users and, hence, requires C programmers to have a deep understanding. Therefore, Rust's simplicity proves better in terms of ease of use.

User Interface

Regarding UI development, neither C++ nor Rust are the go-to choices. In C++ is GTKmm, a modern interface for the GTK+ C library. On the other hand, Rust has Azul, a more recent and modern open-source GUI framework that uses an immediate-mode approach. It has an active community for backup.

So, even though UI development isn't the primary strength of these languages, some tools are available. C++ has GTKmm, and Rust offers Azul, a newer and more modern option.

Making the Right Choice: Rust vs C++

Rust and C++ have strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different scenarios.

C++ is great for its strong community support and extensive libraries, especially for tasks like game development. It's a reliable and well-established language.

Rust, on the other hand, excels in ensuring memory safety and handling concurrency. It's easier to learn and use, making it a good choice if you prioritize code safety and want to avoid memory-related issues.

Ultimately, the better choice depends on your project's needs and your comfort level with the language. Whether you go for Rust or C++, both are widely recognized and capable of getting the job done effectively.

Gear Up for Your Next Tech Interview

Preparing for technical interviews, especially the tough ones, is the key to becoming a better software pro. It increases your coding, problem-solving, and people skills, making you interview-ready and confident.

At Interview Kickstart, we've helped thousands of folks—coding engineers, software devs, and data scientists—land dream offers from top companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix. Check out what people say about us.

Ready to boost your career? Sign up for our Free Webinar now, and let's prepare you for success!"

FAQs about Rust vs. C++

Q1. Is it easier to learn Rust after C++?

Yes, because Rust shares concepts with C++, making the transition smoother for C++ developers.

Q2. Is Rust faster than Java?

Yes, Rust is often considered faster due to its low-level control and ownership system.

Q3. Is Rust the safest language?

Yes, Rust is known for safety, preventing common errors through its ownership system.

Q4. Does Rust have OOP?

Not purely, but Rust supports OOP principles through traits for flexibility.

Q5. Is Rust the next Python?

No, Rust focuses on performance and systems programming, not as a Python replacement.

Last updated on: 
February 12, 2024
Author

Vartika Rai

Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Working with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

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