R language rises with COVID-19 research - Index surveys

R language rises with COVID-19 research

R language for statistical computing moves up in the Tiobe index of language popularity, while Rust and Kotlin also gain

Paul KrillBy Paul Krill

Editor at Large, InfoWorld | JUL 7, 202

COVID-19, previously cited as a possible factor in boosting the popularity of the C programming language, could also be increasing the use of the R language for statistical computing.

R rose to eighth place this month in the Tiobe index of language popularity, its highest position ever, compared to ninth place last month and 20th a year ago. In trying to explain the jump for R, Tiobe cited the possibility of a spike in statistical computing and data mining associated with the search for a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

[ Also on InfoWorld: The best free programming courses during quarantine ]

The rise of R follows the rise of C, which supplanted Java at the top the index in May, after Java had led the index for more than five years. Tiobe theorized that C’s use in medical devices in the wake of COVID-19 was the reason for the boost in popularity. In the case of R, Tiobe surmised that more universities and research institutes are embracing R and Python for statistical analyses rather than commercial packages such as SAS, Strata, and SPSS.

Other movers of note in this month’s index include the Rust language, up to 18th from 20th last month; Kotlin, up three spots to 27th; and Delphi/Object Pascal, down to 30th place from 22nd in June.

C led the index for the third straight month. The Tiobe Index is based on a formula that assesses searches related to languages in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia.

The top 10 programming languages in the Tiobe Index for July 2020:

  1. C, 16.45 percent
  2. Java, 15.1 percent
  3. Python, 9.09 percent
  4. C++, 6.21 percent
  5. C#, 5.25 percent
  6. Visual Basic, 5.23 percent
  7. JavaScript, 2.48 percent
  8. R, 2.41 percent
  9. PHP, 1.9 percent
  10. Swift, 1.43 percent


The alternative Pypl Popularity of Programming Language index, which assesses popularity based on searches of language tutorials in Google, listed the following languages in its top 10 for July 2020:

  1. Python, 31.73 percent share
  2. Java, 17.13 percent
  3. JavaScript, 7.98 percent
  4. C#, 6.67 percent
  5. C/C++, 5.93 percent
  6. PHP, 5.64 percent
  7. R, 4.14 percent
  8. Objective-C, 2.61 percent
  9. Swift, 2.29 percent
  10. TypeScript, 1.91 percent


Paul Krill is an editor at large at InfoWorld, whose coverage focuses on application development.