Why Python Garbage Collection is Critical in Coding Process?

by Madhurjya Chowdhury
April 29, 2022

Python is one of the most widely used programming languages, and its popularity is growing.

Python is one of the most widely used programming languages, and its popularity is growing. Due to its rapid growth, it was placed 3rd in the TIOBE language of the year in 2021. Python is a popular choice for data processing, web applications, and job automation due to its ease of use and big community. In this post, we’ll cover why Python Garbage Collection is critical in the coding process.

Need for Python Garbage Collection in Coding Process

If Python is your first programming language, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of garbage collection. Let’s start with the fundamentals.

Memory Management

In order to conduct operations, a programming language employs objects in its programs. Simple variables, such as texts, numbers, or Booleans, are examples of objects. More complicated data structures, such as lists, hashes, or classes, are also included.

The contents of your program’s objects are kept in memory for easy access. A variable in your computer code is simply a pointer to the location of the object in memory in many computer languages. When a variable is being used in a program, the process reads the value from memory and performs operations on it.

Most programmers were accountable for all memory management in their applications in early programming languages. This meant that before you could create a list or an object, you have to first allocate memory for your variable. After you finished with your variable, you are required to de-allot it in order to “free” that memory for subsequent users.

This resulted in two issues

1. Forgetting to free your memory

2. Freeing your memory too soon

Garbage Collection and Automatic Memory Management

Programmers no longer require supporting memory manually thanks to automated memory management. Alternatively, the runtime took care of this for them.

There are several approaches to autonomous memory management. The most common ones make use of reference counting. The runtime keeps a record of all references to an object using reference counting. When an object has no connections to it, the program code cannot use it and it can be deleted.

Automatic memory management provides a variety of advantages to programmers. It’s easier to design programs when you don’t have to worry about low-level memory specifics. Furthermore, it can aid in the avoidance of expensive memory leaks or unsafe dangling pointers.

However, there is a penalty for autonomous memory management. To keep track of all of its connections, your software will need to utilize more memory and processing. Furthermore, many programming languages ​​with autonomous memory management employ a “stop-the-world” garbage collection method in which all execution is suspended while the garbage collector searches for and deletes objects to be collected.

With Moore’s law’s breakthroughs in computational power and higher amounts of RAM in newer systems, the benefits of autonomous memory management usually exceed the drawbacks. As a result, most modern programming languages, such as Java, Python, and Golang, include automatic memory management.

Some languages ​​still use discretionary memory management for long-running applications where efficiency is crucial. C++ is a typical example of this. Manual memory management can also be found in Objective-C, the programming language used by macOS and iOS. Rust employs manual memory management for modern languages.

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