Difference between Compiler and Interpreter

4 minute read
Difference between Compiler and Interpreter

Have you ever thought about how a computer understands your commands? The computer can only interpret programs that are in the form of 0 and 1 or the binary language. Hence conversion from source code into machine code determines the final program. Interpreters and compilers are responsible for this conversion of a high-level language into machine code. But if both of them are doing the same thing, what makes them different? Let us find it out through this blog the difference between a compiler and an interpreter!

What is a Compiler?

A compiler is a program that changes the source code of a programming language into executable computer code. The CPU only understands the program written in 0’s and 1’s and converts the executable program into machine code that is recognized by computers. Source code, without a compiler, is considered an ineffective set of instructions. A compiler takes it and converts it into a program that is called.EXE or  “executable”.file. (FORTRAN, COBOL, LISP)

How Compiler Works
How Compiler Works

Advantages of a Compiler 

  • Compilers are used to ensure improved performance and it also improves security for professional programmers and makes it much harder to copy one’s code
  • Compilers also enhance execution time by converting the program into an executable object code, which is more compact and runs much faster hence ensuring Reduced system load
  • The advantages of a compiler in software coding include higher performance in terms of execution and provide better error detection mechanisms, protection of source code, and enhanced optimization for specific hardware
  • Ensures SAA compliance checking for every line of the program code 

What is Interpreter? 

An Interpreter is defined as a machine program that directly executes a set of instructions without compiling them. An interpreter processes the source code to a program and implements dispatch and parsing at runtime. The code is “compiled” into program calls within the interpreter’s mechanism. Translating or scanning such a program to a new target doesn’t allow the user to execute it. Computer Interpreters are of various kinds have also been developed for many languages like Fortran, Cobol, Algol C, and C++.

How Interpreter works
How Interpreter works

Advantages of Interpreter

  • Code written in interpreted languages and is compatible with all executable programs and will work the same across all kinds of platforms
  • It requires no re-compiling and paging of programs and needs to be programmed once before the conversion. This makes interpreted languages more flexible than compiled ones. You also don’t have to re-write your code every time you revise it
  • An interpreter works on the principle of software simulation It can be much easier to debug as we have total control over the program source code.

Key Difference Between Compiler and Interpreter

Interpreter Compiler
It is also called “Software Simulation”.Changes program line by line and one statement at a
It is also called “Software Translation” as it scans the entire program and translates it into machine code
Interpreters are Memory efficient as there is no central object codeThe compiler produces the standard intermediate object code which further needs code linking, hence requires more memory
Takes less time to convert the source code
but the execution is slower
The conversion of source code takes a lot of time but the execution is fast
An interpreter executed the code line by line hence the memory requirement is higher
then the compiler due to the creation of object code
It produces the error message only after
scanning the complete program. Which makes the process of debugging comparatively harder 
An interpreter seeks to Continue translating the program until the first error is identified
and stops the executing code by showing the error. Which makes debugging easy for interpreters 
Compilation and execution take place simultaneously
Displays errors of each line one by one.Display all errors after compilation, all at
the same time.
The programming languages used by
interpreters are Ruby and Python  
Compilers use Programming languages
like C, C++, Java  

Check out the list of Scripting Languages!

Find out the difference between C and Java!

Q.1. What is the difference between a compiler and a translator?

Ans: Software is translated from one language to another by translators. There are different categories of translators, including assemblers, interpreters, and compilers. The complete source code for the high-level language is translated into machine code by a compiler.

Q.2. What is the difference between a compiler and a cross-compiler?

Ans: A compiler is a software program that converts high-level programming language code into machine language. A cross-compiler is a software application that can produce executable code for operating systems different from the one it is currently executing on.

Q.3. Is Python a compiler or an interpreter?

Ans: Python is an interpreted language, therefore programmes written in it are translated from their source code into bytecode before being run by the Python virtual machine.

Hopefully, this blog has helped you to acquire all the necessary information on the difference between Compiler and Interpreter. A career in the world of computer science is bright and full of lucrative opportunities. If you have a dream to make a career in this field, let Leverage Edu be your helping hand, book an e-meeting session with our experts and make your dream a reality!

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