Saturday, July 10, 2010

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Interpreters And Compilers


An interpreter translates and executes a program as it reads it, turning the program instructions, or source code, directly into actions. A compiler translates source code into an intermediary form. This step is called compiling, and it produces an object file. A linking application called a linker runs after the compiler and combines the object file into an executable program containing machine code that can directly be run on the processor. 

Because interpreters read the source code as it is written and execute the code on the spot, interpreters can be easier for the programmer to work with. Today, most interpreted programs are referred to as scripts, and the interpreter itself is often called a script engine.

Compilers introduce the extra steps of compiling the source code (which is readable by humans) into object code (which is readable by machines). This extra step might seem inconvenient, but compiled programs run very fast because the time-consuming task of translating the source code into machine language has already been done once, at compile time. Because the translation is already done, it is not required when you execute the program.

Another advantage of compiled languages such as C++ is that you can distribute the executable program to people who don’t have the compiler. With an interpreted language, you must have the interpreter installed to run the program on any computer. 

Some high-level languages, such as Visual Basic 6, call the interpreter the runtime library. Other languages, such as C#, Visual Basic .NET, and Java have another component, referred to as a virtual machine (VM) or a runtime. The VM is also an interpreter. 

However, it is not a source code interpreter that translates human-readable language into computer-dependent machine code. Rather, it interprets and executes a compiled computer-independent virtual machine language or intermediary language. These languages, therefore, still feature a compiler or a compilation step during which the source code written by a programmer is first translated; that is, compiled into content that can be interpreted by the virtual machine or runtime library.

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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