Understanding Static vs. Dynamic Typing in Programming: Key Differences Explained


Table of Contents


In software development, static typing and dynamic typing refer to when the type checking of variables is performed.

Static typing is where variable types are explicitly declared and checked at compile-time, while dynamic typing determines types at runtime and can change.

Type checking refers to verifying and enforcing the constraints of types on values. It is a way to ensure that operations done on variables are semantically correct.

Type-checking is crucial for several reasons:

  • Error Detection: Type-checking can prevent programming errors by ensuring that operations are type-safe. For example, it prevents accidentally adding a number and a string, which would not make sense. We will see it in an example below.
  • Code Documentation: Types can serve as a form of documentation. By looking at the types, you can understand what type of data a function expects or returns.
  • Optimization: In statically typed languages, knowing the types at compile time allows for more efficient machine code generation since the compiler knows exactly what operations will be performed.
  • Autocompletion and Tool Support: Having type information allows development environments to provide more intelligent autocompletion and refactoring tools.
  • Maintenance: In large codebases, type-checking helps maintainers understand the flow of data and how different parts of the application interact.

Static Typing

How it works

In static typing, the variable type is known at compile time, meaning you must declare the variable type before using it. The compiler analyzes the source code to ensure each operation matches the language's type system. If a type error is found (for example, an attempt to add a number to a string), the compiler will raise an error, and the code will not compile until you fix the error. Static typing enforces type safety before the program is even executed. Examples: C, C++, Java, Rust, and TypeScript.

Advantages of Static Typing

  • Type errors are caught early during the compilation process, which can prevent many runtime errors.
  • Better performance at runtime since types are already known.
  • It can make the code more readable and maintainable because types are explicit.
  • It is better for large and complex codebases where changes in one part of the system could break the code elsewhere.

Disadvantages of Static Typing

  • Less flexibility in terms of rapid prototyping and making quick changes.
  • Requires more boilerplate code since you have to declare types.
  • It can be less intuitive for beginners because they must understand typing before starting.

Dynamic Typing

How it works

In dynamic typing, the type of a variable is checked at runtime. In languages with dynamic type systems, types are associated with values, not variables. This means that the type correctness of operations is checked on the fly as the operations are performed. An error is thrown at runtime if an operation is invalid for the current value type (like trying to call a method that doesn't exist on a given object). Examples: Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and PHP.

Advantages of Dynamic Typing

  • More flexibility in assigning different types of values to the same variable.
  • It is faster to code because you do not need to specify types explicitly.
  • It can be more intuitive for beginners since they can start coding without understanding all the types.

Disadvantages of Dynamic Typing

  • Type errors are found at runtime, leading to bugs that are hard to recognize and track down.
  • Performance can be slower because types are checked during execution.
  • Dynamic typing may lead to maintenance challenges in large codebases as the implicit nature of types can make them less transparent to developers.

Example: TypeScript static typing vs JavaScript dynamic typing

This example illustrates the differences between static typing in TypeScript and dynamic typing in JavaScript:

TypeScript (Static Typing)

function addNumbers(a: number, b: number): number { return a + b; } let sum: number = addNumbers(5, 10); // This is fine sum = addNumbers("5", 10); // This will raise a compile-time error because "5" is not of type number

In TypeScript, you must declare the types of variables and function return types. The TypeScript compiler will check these types at compile time, ensuring that the correct types are used throughout the program.

JavaScript (Dynamic Typing)

function addNumbers(a, b) { return a + b; } let sum = addNumbers(5, 10); // This is fine and returns 15 sum = addNumbers("5", 10); // This is also fine at the syntax level and returns the string "510"

In JavaScript, you don't declare the types of variables—they are inferred at runtime. The same function addNumbers can return a number or concatenate two strings, depending on the types of arguments passed. This is because JavaScript is dynamically typed, and type checks are performed at runtime.


Static typing is like having a strict plan to adhere to and double-check before starting the work. Dynamic typing is akin to a more improvisational approach where you figure things out as you go along.

Each has its place: static typing's early error detection and performance benefits are particularly valuable in large, complex systems. In contrast, dynamic typing's flexibility and ease of use can be advantageous for rapid development and prototyping.

Share this

Share on social media