Python is one of the most popular programming languages in existence. Easy to learn and easy to use, it has been around for years, so there is a large community of Python developers to support each other, and it has built up an ecosystem of libraries that allow users to drop in the functionalities they need. It does, however, come with downsides: its programs tend to run slowly, and because it is inefficient at running processes in parallel, it is not well suited to some of the latest artificial intelligence (AI) programming.
Hoping to overcome those difficulties, computer scientist Chris Lattner set out to create a new language, Mojo, which offers the ease of use of Python, but the performance of more complex languages such as C++ or Rust. He teamed up with Tim Davis, whom he had met when they both worked for Google, to form Modular in January 2022. The company, where Lattner is chief executive officer and Davis chief product officer, provides support for companies working on AI and is developing Mojo.
A modern AI programming stack generally has Python on top, Lattner says, but because that is an inefficient language, it has C++ underneath to handle the implementation. The C++ then must communicate with performance accelerators or graphics processing units (GPUs), so developers add a platform such as Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) to make efficient use of those GPUs. "Mojo came from the need to unify these three different parts of the stack so that we could build a unified solution that can scale up and down," Lattner says.