Ranking programming languages by energy efficiency

Rui Pereira, Marco Couto, Francisco Ribeiro, Rui Rua, Jácome Cunha, João Paulo Fernandes, João Saraiva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper compares a large set of programming languages regarding their efficiency, including from an energetic point-of-view. Indeed, we seek to establish and analyze different rankings for programming languages based on their energy efficiency. The goal of being able to rank programming languages based on their energy efficiency is both recent, and certainly deserves further studies. We have taken rigorous and strict solutions to 10 well defined programming problems, expressed in (up to) 27 programming languages, from the well known Computer Language Benchmark Game repository. This repository aims to compare programming languages based on a strict set of implementation rules and configurations for each benchmarking problem. We have also built a framework to automatically, and systematically, run, measure and compare the energy, time, and memory efficiency of such solutions. Ultimately, it is based on such comparisons that we propose a series of efficiency rankings, based on single and multiple criteria. Our results show interesting findings, such as how slower/faster languages can consume less/more energy, and how memory usage influences energy consumption. We also present a simple way to use our results to provide software engineers and practitioners support in deciding which language to use when energy efficiency is a concern. In addition, we further validate our results and rankings against implementations from a chrestomathy program repository, Rosetta Code., by reproducing our methodology and benchmarking system. This allows us to understand how the results and conclusions from our rigorously and well defined benchmarked programs compare to those based on more representative and real-world implementations. Indeed our results show that the rankings do not change apart from one programming language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102609
JournalScience of Computer Programming
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Energy efficiency
  • Green software
  • Language benchmarking
  • Programming languages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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