When comparing C++ vs The C Programming Language (AKA: K&R), the Slant community recommends The C Programming Language (AKA: K&R) for most people. In the question“What are the best resources to learn C/C++?” The C Programming Language (AKA: K&R) is ranked 6th while C++ is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose The C Programming Language (AKA: K&R) is:
This book is so well known that it's affectionately called "K & R", after the authors. It's been cited in many other books and is familiar to most, if not all, CS students.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Huge language supports most everything
C++ is a large language with an even larger community and following. It has libraries for every kind of task that is possible to do with C++
Pro Powerful memory management
Allows puting large arrays on the "heap" to avoid "stack overflow".
Pro Teaches fundamental OOP
Teaches you to leverage object oriented programming.
Pro Excellent compiler optimization
Both open source compilers (such as Clang and GCC), and proprietary ones (like Intel's and Microsoft's) are very good at analyzing program flow and program optimization. This is mostly due to the widespread usage of C/C++ applications running everything from mobile/desktop/server Operating Systems, to search engines and webserver software, and the demand for performance.
Pro C code can be used in C++ code
Most C code will work as C++
Pro Best way to understand algorithms
Pro Teaches problem solving
The great STL is the most powerful Data Structure and Algorithms Library. It would benefit you very much in problem solving, your main main way to love programming. The code is much compact compared to Java and C#. No unnecessary classes are in your way; yet when you need classes they are available unlike C. The code runs very fast.
Pro STD is often updated
The functionalities keep growing throughout the years. C++11 gave us a soft type of garbage collecting with the smart pointers.
Pro Well known classic
This book is so well known that it's affectionately called "K & R", after the authors.
It's been cited in many other books and is familiar to most, if not all, CS students.
Pro It's excerpted from the idea of its creators
This book is written by Dennis Ritchie, who was one of the main people behind the development and design of C and UNIX.
Pro Creative, challenging exercises
The challenges at the end of each chapter do a great job of requiring many of the skills learned up to that point. Completing the challenges is a great way of insuring you understand the material.
Con Huge language gets in the way of learning
C++ is such an atrociously over-complicated language that its learning curve may get in the way of learning fundamentals. Learning C++ well is a ten-year project, and even experts are frequently surprised by the language.
Con Undefined behavior
Subtle errors can render the entire program "undefined" by the complicated C++ standard. The standard imposes no requirements in such cases. Thus C++ compiler writers are free to ignore the existence of such cases and Bad Things are prone to happen instead. Even experts can't reliably avoid undefined cases in C++, so how can beginners be expected to do so?
Con Module system is not great
C++ uses the
#include mechanism provided by C. Which unfortunately is a poor way of accessing the API of a library. Some of the reasons why the module system is weak are:
Compile time scalability: The compiler must preprocess every header included in a file, and every header included in those headers. This process must be repeated for every translation unit in the program. As can be imagined, this doesn't scale very well. For each header added you are increasing the compilation time exponentially.
Fragile: modules included are treated as textual imports by the compiler. This causes all sorts of problems since they are subject to any macro definitions in the time of the inclusion. If any of these macro definitions collide with a name in the library it can break the library API .
Con No two programmers can agree on which 10% subset of C++ to use
C++ is such a huge and complicated language, that programmers have to learn a disciplined subset of it to reliably get anything done. The problem is, no-one can agree on which subset to use and they can't understand each other.
Con Painfully slow compilation
Beginners need fast feedback
Con Retains nearly all bad habits of C
Con Tough to learn as the first language
Many of the concepts are hard to grasp if you have no prior programming experience.
Con Bugs easily corrupt the memory you need to find them
You can usually get a core dump, but often the call stack gets completely overwritten. Compilers are not even consistent in how they map the binary objects to code.
Con No reflection
C++ objects are frustratingly opaque. This makes debugging especially difficult, something beginners have to do a lot.
Con Complicated types
Con Standard library missing important features
Con Arcane binding rules
Con No way to locate definitions
No modules, just files, and no way to tell where anything came from.
Con Duplicates C features in incompatible ways
Arrays, strings, pointers, etc. have both C and C++ versions. Sometimes the C++ versions are worse. This is more useless trivia beginners have to sort through.
Con Incomprehensible operator overloading resoution
Con Exceptions incompatible with C++ manual memory management
Con Undefined behaviors and weak limited type safety
Undefined behavior in a program can cause unexpected results, making it hard to debug. With UB, program behavior may vary wildly depending on optimization settings. There are many cases that invoke UB, such as signed overflow, invalid dereferences, large integer shifts, uninitialized variables, etc. C++ allows for non-type safe operations such as logic errors, wild pointers, buffer overflow, etc. UB and type safety issues create a large number of bugs and security vulnerabilities.
Con Not for beginners
Assumes familiarity not only with programming concepts but some C language specifics.
Con Out of Date
Some commands and practices are out of date, so errata and googling is needed while going through the book.
Con Teaches bad style
The K&R style works for old Unix mainframe command-line programs that exit after a simple task and leave the cleanup to the OS; where input is only from trusted experts; and most functions are only called internally to the program. The environment is very different today. This style will get your server owned by hackers, or crash it due to a memory leak, etc. You will have to unlearn what you've learned from this book to use C correctly in the real world today.