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A compiler is a type of software program that is specifically designed to translate an entire high-level programming language such as Java, C, or Python into a lower-level machine language that can be directly understood and executed by the processor.
When a programmer writes code in a high-level language, it contains instructions and statements that are intended to be understood by humans, but not directly by computers. In order to execute this code on a computer, it must first be translated into machine language that the computer can understand. This process of translation is called compilation.
During compilation, the compiler scans the entire code written in the high-level language, checks it for syntax errors, and converts it into machine code. This machine code is then saved in an executable file format, typically with a '.exe' extension, which can be run on the computer.
Once the code has been compiled, the resulting executable file can be executed by the processor without the need for the original high-level code. This means that you can run the program as many times as needed without having to recompile it again.
Compilers are essential tools for software development, as they allow programmers to write code in a high-level language, which is easier to read and write, and then translate it into machine code that can be directly executed by the computer.
An interpreter is a software program that reads and executes high-level programming language code, one line or one statement at a time, without creating an intermediate executable file. Unlike a compiler, which generates machine code from the source code, an interpreter reads and executes the code directly.
When an interpreted program is run, the interpreter reads the code statement by statement, evaluates each statement, and executes it. The interpreter checks for syntax errors as it reads the code and reports them immediately, stopping the program's execution if it encounters an error. In this way, the interpreter provides a more interactive and iterative way of developing and testing programs, allowing developers to quickly modify and test code as they go.
One of the key differences between an interpreter and a compiler is that an interpreter does not generate an intermediate executable file. This means that each time the program needs to be executed, the interpreter must read and interpret the code again, which can make interpreted programs slower than compiled programs. However, interpreted programs can be more flexible, as they can be modified and tested more easily, making them well-suited for languages like Python, which are commonly used in scientific computing and rapid prototyping.
Both interpreters and compilers serve the purpose of translating high-level programming language code into machine code that can be executed by a computer, they differ in their approach to this task. Compilers generate an intermediate executable file, while interpreters read and execute the code directly, one line at a time.