The Most Popular Functional Programming Language: A Ranking

Choose the functional programming language you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 18, 2024 07:09
Welcome to StrawPoll, the ultimate platform for casting your vote and making your opinion count! Today, we're diving into the fascinating world of functional programming languages as we seek to crown the most popular among them. With thousands of passionate programmers worldwide, it's time to determine which functional language reigns supreme. Be it the elegance of Haskell, the versatility of Scala, or the simplicity of Lisp, we've curated a comprehensive list of contenders vying for the top spot. So, join our quest to unravel the champion of functional programming languages by casting your vote or suggesting a missing option. Don't miss this opportunity to contribute to the definitive ranking that will shape the future of functional programming. Let the battle of paradigms begin!

What Is the Most Popular Functional Programming Language?

  1. 1
    Haskell is considered the most popular functional programming language. It is purely functional and has a strong static type system. It is used in various industries such as finance, academia, and data science.
    Haskell is a strongly typed, purely functional programming language known for its emphasis on correctness, conciseness, and elegance. It was designed to encourage a declarative style of programming and provides powerful type inference capabilities.
    • Type System: Haskell has a statically typed system with a sophisticated type inference mechanism, allowing many type annotations to be omitted.
    • Purely Functional: Haskell enforces immutability and avoids side effects as much as possible through its pure functional paradigm.
    • Lazy Evaluation: Haskell uses lazy evaluation, allowing for potentially infinite data structures and efficient handling of computations.
    • Higher-Order Functions: Haskell supports higher-order functions, treating functions as first-class citizens and enabling powerful abstractions.
    • Pattern Matching: Pattern matching is extensively used in Haskell to destructure data, enabling concise and expressive code.
  2. 2
    Scala is used for building high-performance systems and has gained popularity in the big data industry. It is a hybrid language that combines functional and object-oriented programming paradigms.
    Scala is a statically typed programming language that blends object-oriented and functional programming concepts. It is designed to be concise, expressive, and scalable. Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and seamlessly integrates with existing Java code and libraries.
    • Type System: Scala has a powerful and flexible type system that supports strong static typing. It includes features like type inference, generics, case classes, and pattern matching.
    • Functional Programming: Scala offers full support for functional programming paradigms, including higher-order functions, immutability, lambda expressions, and lazy evaluation.
    • Object-Oriented Programming: Scala is fully object-oriented and allows defining classes, interfaces, inheritance, and method overloading.
    • Concurrency: Scala provides built-in support for concurrent and parallel programming through features like actors, futures, and promises.
    • Scala Collections: Scala provides a rich set of immutable and mutable collections with comprehensive APIs that facilitate functional programming.
  3. 3
    Clojure is a modern Lisp dialect that runs on the Java Virtual Machine. It is used for building high-performance, concurrent systems and has gained popularity in the web development industry.
    Clojure is a high-level, dynamic, and functional programming language that is designed to be a general-purpose language for developing applications. It is a dialect of Lisp that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and provides seamless interoperation with Java libraries. Clojure emphasizes immutability, functional programming, and a consistent syntax. It aims to provide a practical and efficient language for concurrent programming.
    • Paradigm: Functional programming, concurrent programming
    • Type system: Dynamic, strong typing
    • Platform: JVM
    • First release: 2007
    • Latest stable release: 1.10.1
  4. 4
    OCaml is a general-purpose functional programming language that is used in scientific and industrial applications. It has a strong type system and is known for its efficiency.
    OCaml is a statically typed functional programming language with strong type inference and high-level abstract data types. It is derived from the ML family of languages and is known for its powerful type system and efficient runtime system.
    • Concurrency: OCaml provides lightweight concurrency primitives to express concurrent and parallel programs.
    • Type Inference: OCaml has a powerful type inference system that automatically deduces the types of expressions.
    • Static Typing: OCaml requires all types to be known at compile-time, preventing many runtime errors.
    • Pattern Matching: OCaml supports pattern matching which allows concise and powerful expressions to process complex data structures.
    • Module System: OCaml has a robust module system that allows for code organization and abstraction.
  5. 5


    F# is a cross-platform functional programming language that is used for building scalable and robust applications. It is widely used in the .NET ecosystem and has gained popularity in the finance and gaming industries.
    F# is a functional-first programming language developed by Microsoft Research. It is a strongly typed, multi-paradigm language that runs on the .NET Framework. F# merges functional programming with imperative and object-oriented programming concepts, making it a versatile language for various applications.
    • Type System: F# supports static typing with type inference, allowing concise code while ensuring type safety.
    • Immutability: F# encourages immutability by default, making it easier to reason about and parallelize code.
    • Pattern Matching: F# features powerful pattern matching capabilities, enabling succinct and expressive code.
    • Asynchronous Programming: F# provides built-in support for asynchronous programming, leveraging the asynchronous workflows model.
    • Interop with .NET: F# seamlessly integrates with existing .NET libraries and frameworks.
  6. 6
    Erlang is a concurrent programming language that is used for building distributed systems. It is popular in the telecommunications industry and is known for its fault tolerance and reliability.
  7. 7
    Racket is a multi-paradigm programming language that is used for building educational and scientific applications. It is a dialect of Lisp and has a strong macro system.
    Racket is a general-purpose, high-level functional programming language. It is a dialect of the Lisp programming language and builds upon the Scheme programming language. Racket is designed to be a platform for language creation, allowing programmers to easily develop their own languages, such as domain-specific languages (DSLs). It provides a robust and extensible environment for software development and research in language design and implementation.
    • First appeared: 1995
    • Paradigm: Functional programming
    • Typing: Static and dynamic typing
    • Platform: Cross-platform
    • Dialect of: Lisp and Scheme
  8. 8
    Scheme is a minimalist dialect of Lisp that is used for teaching programming and building small scripts. It has a simple syntax and a powerful macro system.
    Scheme is a general-purpose functional programming language and one of the most popular dialects of the Lisp programming language. It is designed to have a minimalistic syntax and a simple yet powerful semantics, making it a versatile and flexible language for various programming tasks.
    • First version: 1975
    • Lexical scoping: Yes
    • First-class functions: Yes
    • Tail call optimization: Yes
    • Dynamic typing: Yes
  9. 9
    Common Lisp is a general-purpose programming language that is used in various industries such as finance, aerospace, and robotics. It has a strong macro system and is known for its expressiveness.
    Common Lisp is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language and one of the oldest and most prominent members of the Lisp family. It offers a rich set of features, including dynamic typing, garbage collection, macros, object-oriented programming, and first-class functions. Common Lisp is known for its extensibility and the ability to write expressive and concise code.
    • Year: 1984
    • Paradigm: Multi-paradigm: functional, procedural, object-oriented
    • Typing discipline: Dynamic
    • License: GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
    • Platform: Cross-platform
    Common Lisp in other rankings
  10. 10
    PureScript is a strongly-typed functional programming language that is used for building web applications. It compiles to JavaScript and has gained popularity in the front-end web development industry.
    PureScript is a statically-typed functional programming language that is influenced by Haskell. It is designed to compile to JavaScript, allowing developers to write expressive and type-safe code for front-end and back-end web development. PureScript emphasizes immutability, type-driven development, and supports advanced language features like type classes and higher-order functions.
    • Paradigm: Functional
    • Typing: Static
    • Compilation Target: JavaScript
    • Influenced by: Haskell
    • Immutability: Yes

Missing your favorite functional programming language?


Ranking factors for popular functional programming language

  1. Community and Ecosystem
    A strong and active community that contributes with libraries, frameworks, and resources, as well as providing support and knowledge exchange, is vital for the popularity of a programming language. The ecosystem also includes the availability of third-party tools, packages, and integrations.
  2. Job Market Demand
    The number of job openings and demand for professionals skilled in the functional programming language is an indicator of its popularity. A language with higher demand would be considered more popular.
  3. Industry Adoption
    The extent to which the language is adopted and used by established companies, startups, and other organizations is an essential factor in determining its popularity.
  4. Tutorials, Courses, and Resources
    The availability of learning materials, including online courses, books, tutorials, and blogs, is a practical measure of a language's popularity, as it reflects the interest and attention from both learners and experts.
  5. Performance and Scalability
    A popular functional programming language should have good performance and support for concurrent and distributed computing, which helps in building scalable applications.
  6. Language Features and Syntax
    The language should offer powerful functional programming features, including immutability, pattern matching, higher-order functions, and lazy evaluation. An intuitive and easy-to-understand syntax can also contribute to its popularity.
  7. Compatibility and Interoperability
    A language's compatibility with other programming languages and libraries plays a crucial role in its popularity. The ability to work well with other languages and frameworks can be a significant factor in the adoption of a functional programming language.
  8. Versatility and Use Cases
    The range of applications and domains in which a functional programming language can be effectively used plays a role in its popularity. A language that has versatile use cases will attract developers from various fields, contributing to its popularity.
  9. Development and Maintenance
    A continuously maintained and updated language would be more popular compared to a stagnant language. Bug fixes, new features, and improvements are essential for keeping a language popular.
  10. Conference Talks, Podcasts, and Events
    The number of dedicated conferences, meetups, podcasts, and other events focused on a functional programming language indicates its popularity among developers and experts.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular functional programming language. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or language is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 151 votes
  • 10 ranked items

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Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each language once every 24 hours. The rank of each language is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular functional programming language

Functional programming has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its focus on writing code that is concise, modular, and easy to reason about. Functional programming languages are designed to handle complex computations by using functions as the building blocks of the program. Among the most popular functional programming languages are Haskell, Scala, and Clojure. Haskell is known for its strong type system and lazy evaluation, while Scala combines object-oriented and functional programming paradigms. Clojure, on the other hand, is a dialect of the Lisp programming language and is designed for concurrency. Other notable functional programming languages include F#, OCaml, and Erlang. F# is a cross-platform language that integrates with the .NET framework, while OCaml is used in the development of compilers and operating systems. Erlang, on the other hand, is designed for building distributed systems and is used by companies such as WhatsApp and Ericsson. Overall, the popularity of functional programming languages is on the rise due to their ability to handle complex computations, promote code reusability, and improve overall code quality.

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