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Difference Between Compiler and Interpreter

Both interpreters and compilers are programs that convert the Source Code (high-level language) into machine codes (so that the computers can understand them). In this article, we will discuss the difference between Compiler and Interpreter. 

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A typical computer program usually exists in high-level languages that a human can understand. Thus, they contain various phrases and words from the English language (or any other in common use). Computers, on the other hand, cannot understand these languages as we do- but can comprehend a program in binary codes. As a result, we first write a program in a high-level language (source code), convert them into machine language, and make them readable for the computers. It is exactly when we need interpreters and compilers.

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What is a Compiler?

A compiler is a translator that produces an output of low-level language (like an assembly or machine language) by taking an input of high-level language. It is basically a computer program used to transform codes written in a programming language into machine code (human-readable code to a binary 0 and 1 bits language for a computer processor to understand). The computer then processes the machine code for performing the corresponding tasks.

  • Compilers check all types of errors, limits, and ranges. Thus, it’s more intelligent.
  • The run time of its program is longer, and it occupies more memory.

What Is an Interpreter?

It is a program that functions for the translation of a programming language into a comprehensible one. It is a computer program used for converting high-level program statements into machine codes. It includes pre-compiled code, source code, and scripts.

  • An interpreter translates only one statement at a time of the program.
  • They create an exe of the programming language before the program runs.

Difference Between Compiler and Interpreter

Parameter Compiler Interpreter
Steps of Programming
  • Creation of the program.
  • The Compiler analyses all the language statements and throws an error when it finds something incorrect.
  • If there’s zero error, the compiler converts the source code to machine one.
  • It links various code files into a runnable program (exe).
  • It runs the program.
  • Creation of the program.
  • It doesn’t require the linking of files or generation of machine code.
  • It executes the source statements line by line during the execution.
Advantage The code execution time is comparatively less because the program code already gets translated into machine code. They are fairly easy to use and execute, even for a beginner.
Disadvantage One can’t change a program without getting back to the source code. Only computers with the corresponding Interpreter can run the interpreted programs.
Machine Code It stores the machine language on the disk in the form of machine code. It doesn’t save the machine language at all.
Running Time The compiled codes run comparatively faster. The interpreted codes run comparatively slower.
Model It works on the basis of the language-translation linking-loading model. It works on the basis of the Interpretation method.
Generation of Program It generates an output program in the exe format. A user can run it independently from the originally intended program. It doesn’t generate an output program. Meaning, it evaluates the source program every time during individual execution.
Execution One can separate the program execution from the compilation. Thus, you can perform it only after completing the compilation of the entire output. Execution of the program is one of the steps of the Interpretation process. So, you can perform it line by line.
Memory Requirement Target programs execute independently. They don’t require the Compiler in the memory. Interpreter originally exists in the memory at the time of interpretation.
Best Fitted For You cannot port the Compiler because it stays bound to the specific target machine. The compilation model is very common in programming languages like C and C++. They work the best in web environments- where the load time is very crucial. Compiling takes a relatively long time, even with small codes that may not run multiple times due to the exhaustive analysis. Interpretations are better in such cases.
Optimization of Code A compiler is capable of seeing the entire code upfront. Thus, it makes the codes run faster by performing plenty of optimizations. An interpreter sees a code line by line. The optimization is, thus, not very robust when compared to Compilers.
Dynamic Typing Compilers are very difficult to implement because they can’t predict anything that happens during the turn time. The Interpreted language supports Dynamic Typing.
Use It works best for the Production Environment. It works the best for the programming and development environment.
Execution of Error A Compiler displays every error and warning while compiling. So, you can’t run this program unless you fix the errors. An Interpreter reads every statement, then displays the errors, if any. A user must resolve these errors in order to interpret the next line.
Input A Compiler takes a program as a whole. An Interpreter takes single lines of a code.
Output The Compilers generate intermediate machine codes. The Interpreters never generate any intermediate machine codes.
Errors This translator displays all the errors after compiling- together at the same time. It displays the errors of every single line one by one.
Programming Languages Java, Scala, C#, C, C++ use Compilers. Perl, Ruby, PHP use Interpreters.

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