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Rust vs. D: Exploring Possible Successors of C++

This paper was written as part of the senior exercise for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science at Pomona College.


The programming languages D and Rust aim to simplify the complex and error-prone features of C++ while maintaining a similar level of performance. This paper examines whether the languages succeed in easing the development of safe code, with a particular focus on each language's compile-time features and memory management techniques. C++, D, and Rust are evaluated on both subjective and empirical criteria. In order to evaluate the success of each language's design goals, I have implemented a number of small programs that demonstrate common tasks in systems programming, each in C++, D, and Rust. I recruited a number of volunteers with prior experience with C++ to attempt the implementation of these programs in D or Rust as well. Each volunteer documented his or her development process in detail, particularly noting any errors or bugs that were encountered. The programmers tallied and categorized each error. This data was used to analyze whether a particular language makes it easier to avoid certain errors. I then evaluated each language on expressiveness and ease of development to determine whether the language's design goals have been met.

Code Examples

The C++ code examples may be compiled using CMake. D using rdmd, and Rust using cargo.

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