An empirical comparison of seven programming languages:

80 implementations of the same set of requirements are compared for several properties, such as run time, memory consumption, source text length, comment density, program structure, reliability, and the amount of effort required for writing them. The results indicate that, for the given pro- gramming problem, which regards string manipulation and search in a dictionary, “scripting languages” (Perl, Python, Rexx, Tcl) are more productive than “conventional lan- guages” (C, C++, Java). In terms of run time and mem- ory consumption, they often turn out better than Java and not much worse than C or C++. In general, the differences between languages tend to be smaller than the typical dif- ferences due to different programmers within the same lan- guage.

The study was published in 2000 and a lot has changed in the iterim with lots of progress both in JVMs and in scripting languages, making me wonder how the same study would look today.