Python vs. C#: Which Language Is Best for AI?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

When choosing a programming language, you want one with useful features for your project. Learn more about the programming languages Python and C#, including how developers use them in artificial intelligence and which language is best for AI projects.

[Featured image] Two students sit in front of a laptop and discuss whether to use Python or C# for a project.

Python and C# are two of the top programming languages used worldwide. They're still in demand as the increasing use of artificial intelligence creates opportunities for employees with the skills necessary to leverage new technologies and the information they can provide organizations. Businesses can implement artificial intelligence to automate processes, learn about their customers, find ways to improve the products and services they provide, and more.

Computer programming is an important skill for working with artificial intelligence, and some programming languages are better suited for artificial intelligence than others. You'll have to choose the one that meets the specific requirements of the AI project or application you are working on.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science designed to research and create the capacity of computers to copy human intelligence. Researchers in this field use algorithms to train computers and computer programs to complete tasks and perform activities that humans handled in the past. Known as machine learning, this process is an important component of several modern technologies such as autocorrect, self-driving cars, and chatbots. For example, each time you accept or decline the suggested word spelling from an autocorrect feature, you train the computer behind it to predict the word you want to use and how to spell it.

The algorithms that power AI can sort through large amounts of data as they seek out patterns and identify trends. With this information, organizations can gain a better understanding of their data, develop accurate predictions, support problem-solving, and make data-driven decisions. Two of the main subfields within artificial intelligence are machine learning and deep learning. Both of them use a type of algorithm called neural networks, which imitate the structure of human brains—complete with layers of interconnected neurons.


Python is a well-known general-purpose programming language and one of the most popular languages used to write code across a variety of disciplines and applications—including artificial intelligence. One reason it's so popular is because it uses a syntax similar to English, making it an ideal option for those new to programming. Although Python tends to be easier for people to learn compared to other languages, it still has value for more advanced programmers.

How is Python used in artificial intelligence?

Python is a good choice for use in artificial intelligence because it's widely used for data analysis, which is an important component of AI. The language also offers several frameworks and libraries already used in artificial intelligence and machine learning, such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, Keras, and Scikit-learn. For example, developers use TensorFlow to build complex neural networks, automate data, and retrain models. With Python as part of your skillset, you can pursue a career in several AI and AI adjacent positions, including machine learning engineer, big data analyst, and data scientist.


Part of the C family of languages that included C and C++, the object-oriented programming language, C# (pronounced “C sharp”), has been in use for more than 20 years. This language is excellent for application development—for the web, desktops, and mobile devices—and Microsoft continues developing it. As a result, its capabilities continue to grow as technological advancements occur. C# is a popular and versatile language. If you have prior programming experience with Java or other C languages, it can be helpful to learn C# due to their similarities.

How is C# used in artificial intelligence?

Microsoft developed an open-source machine learning framework called ML.NET to create custom machine learning models. With ML.NET, C# programmers can utilize machine learning to develop applications on mobile and desktop devices, as well as Internet of Things applications. Implementing machine learning with app development allows you to add several advanced features to your apps, such as fraud detection, sentiment analysis, object detection, and product recommendations. Additionally, ML.NET offers users access to TensorFlow, the same popular machine learning framework utilized by Python programmers.

Is Python or C# better for artificial intelligence?

In many cases, Python is the best programming language for artificial intelligence, and it is especially useful if you’re working on machine learning projects that require large quantities of data. Other features that make Python such a great language for AI are its versatility and the simplicity of the syntax, which make it less challenging to learn. However, C# is still a strong option for building mobile, desktop, and web applications, as well as video games, with the ML.NET platform helping to implement machine learning into these systems.

How to learn Python and C#

You can learn Python and C# through college degree programs, boot camps, and online courses. To choose the right option for you, consider your career goals, time commitment, and learning style. You may need a college degree for some AI jobs, like data analyst and software developer, and you could take coding courses as part of your degree program. If you want to learn a language quickly, consider taking an online course or attending a boot camp where you can work at your own pace. Some self-guided courses are available a no cost to you. 

Developing skills in multiple programming languages can help make you more attractive to employers and improve your job opportunities. Here are some of the other popular programming languages to consider learning for artificial intelligence:

  • Java

  • Lisp

  • C++

  • R

  • JavaScript

  • Julia

Getting started with Coursera

To learn more about artificial intelligence or programming languages used to power it, explore courses on Coursera. AI for Everyone from DeepLearning.AI covers topics like machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and how to identify opportunities for AI in your workplace. 

If you’re interested in learning to program with Python, consider Python for Data Science, AI, and Development from IBM. You'll be able to explore Python libraries, data structures, and concepts and practice using Python to automate real-world tasks.

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