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Java is a general-purpose computer programming language specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is the foundation for virtually every type of networked application and is the global standard for developing and delivering embedded mobile applications, games, Web-based content and enterprise software. Today, Java has more than 9 million developers worldwide, and it enables users to efficiently develop, deploy and use a number of dynamic applications and services.

According to Dennis McCafferty, writer for Baseline Magazine, “Java remains a developer favorite for good reason – it’s secure, robust and relatively simple.”

History of Java

The Java programming language originally evolved from a language known as Oak, which was developed in the early 1990s by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems as a platform-independent language aimed at allowing entertainment appliances such as video game consoles and VCRs to communicate. Oak was originally designed to appear in television set-top boxes that provided video-on-demand services, but with the World Wide Web catching fire, Oak developers soon shifted their focus to the Internet.

The name of the language was changed to Java, which promised “write once, run anywhere,” providing no-cost run times in popular platforms. Featuring configurable security, it allowed network- and file-access restrictions, and major web browsers soon incorporated the ability to run Java applets within web pages.

Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 and described itself as the steward of Java technology with a relentless commitment to fostering a community of participation and transparency. Today, Java software runs on everything from laptops to data centers, game consoles to scientific supercomputers.

Java Features

When Sun Microsystems created Java, they made sure to include specific features, also known as Java buzzwords, which make it such a popular programming language. These defining buzzwords include:

  • Simple – Java is easy to write and more readable and eye-catching than other program languages
  • Object-oriented – Java programming is object-oriented and based on the concept of objects, which may contain data in the form of fields, often known as attributes; and code, in the form of procedures, often known as methods.
  • Platform independent – The Java platform is software-based, which means it can run on top of multiple hardware-based platforms.
  • Secure – Java programs cannot harm other systems and provides a secure means of creating Internet applications.
  • Robust – Java encourages error-free programming by being strictly typed and performing run-time checks.
  • Architecture-neutral – Java is not tied to a specific machine or operating system architecture.
  • Portable – Java programs can execute in any environment where there is a Java run-time system.
  • Dynamic – Java programs carry with them substantial amounts of run-time type information used to verify and resolve accesses to objects.
  • Interpreted – Java supports cross-platform code through the use of Java bytecodes.
  • High performance – Java bytecodes are highly optimized.
  • Multithreaded – Java provides integrated support for multithreaded programming.
  • Distributed – Java can be transmitted and run over the Internet.

Big Data and Java

Today, the amount of data being generated by people and devices takes too much time and costs too much money to load into traditional relational databases for analysis. As a result, companies are adopting new analytics and storage approaches to “big data,” or data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate.

Storing large amounts of data is often accomplished by using open-source software frameworks such as Hadoop, which is written in Java computer language. Hadoop allows data analysts to store large data sets across a large number of inexpensive servers and then run programming models such as MapReduce on Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) in those servers to coordinate, combine and process data. Java is commonly used in the world of big data as the programming language on a wide variety open-source software frameworks, including Storm, Pig, and Spark, Dropwizard, Spring, Turbine, Struts, Tapestry, Cocoon, Google Web Toolkit, Pandora, and JPublish.

Due to the fact that it is relatively easy to learn, secure, reliable and capable of performing several tasks simultaneously, Java has gained enormous popularity since it first appeared, and it has been integrated into practically every major operating system. For data scientists, the existence of Java programming language in so many open-source software frameworks makes it an invaluable tool of the trade.

Learn More

If Java programming language is of interest to you, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in data science.