Difference Between Compiler and Interpreter

Main Difference

Both compiler and interpreter translate higher level language programs, the difference is that a compiler compiles the source code into executable machine code while an interpreter interprets each statement and executes it without producing any machine/object code. . The compiler’s job is done only once, after a program is compiled; it can be saved for later execution, while the interpreter must interpret each time the program is executed. Object code is generated in the case of the compiler, while no object code is produced in the interpreter; just produce intermediate code. The compiler processes the entire program, but an interpreter processes it instruction by instruction. In the compiler, the execution of the program is fast and in the case of the interpreter it is slower because the interpretation and execution statement by statement takes a lot of time. In the compiler, the debugging process is difficult compared to debugging in an interpreter. The compiler does not require source code at runtime, but in the case of the interpreter, a complete source code file is required to run a program. The compiler requires more memory because the generating machine code is quite large, but in the case of the interpreter, no additional memory is needed. In compilers, errors in a program are displayed after parsing the entire source code, but in the In the case of the interpreter, the errors are shown for each line interpreted. The compiled code is executed by the computer hardware in the case of compilers while in the case of interpreters, the intermediate code is processed by another program. In the programming scenario, the compiler checks the syntax of the program, but the interpreters check the keywords of a program. In compilers there is a scope for code optimization and interpreters allow code modification at runtime. Both are used by programmers and both have their own specifications and benefits. In compilers there is a scope for code optimization and interpreters allow code modification at runtime. Both are used by programmers and both have their own specifications and benefits. In compilers there is a scope for code optimization and interpreters allow code modification at runtime. Both are used by programmers and both have their own specifications and benefits.

Comparison chart

Interpreter Compiler
Entry The interpreter takes a single instruction as input. The compiler takes the entire program as input.
object code No intermediate object code is generated in the interpreter. Intermediate object code is produced in the compiler
Control Statements A slow execution of the Conditional Control Statement in Interpreter. Conditional control statements run quickly in the compiler
Conversion The higher level program becomes a lower level program each time. It is not necessary that the program is always compiled in Compiler.

Compiler definition

A compiler is a specialized program that processes source code written in a higher-level language into machine code understandable by a computer. This machine code is actually in binary language that a processor understands and executes. To write a source code, the programmer writes the program in a language like C, C++ or Pascal using some programming editor. This program is then executed using a compiler that is appropriate for the language in which the source code is written. The input of a compiler is a complete program; first analyze it and then process it. Performs a series of analyzes on the source code given as input, lexical and syntactic analysis. After performing these two steps, the compiler’s final task is to generate the machine code.

Definition of interpreter

An interpreter is a program that performs phrase-by-phrase (line-by-line) translation of program source code written in some higher-level language. An interpreter, when given a program, takes its one line, interprets it, and then executes it. The interpreter generates an intermediate code after interpreting the source code and thus executes it. There is no build stage and no machine code is generated. This is how the interpreter translates and executes the entire program line by line. Preferred when immediate instruction per instruction execution is required. They are especially useful when testing code. Every time a program is to be executed, the interpreter interprets it in the same way.

Differences in a nutshell

  1. The compiler processes the entire program; The interpreter interprets the code line by line.
  2. The compiler produces binary machine code; The interpreter generates an intermediate code.
  3. Compiler machine code can be saved and reused once compiled; The interpreter has to interpret the source code every time.
  4. Compilers examine the validity of the code‘s syntax; interpreters check for keywords.
  5. In the compiler, the execution of the program is fast; in the interpreter, the execution of the program is slow.
  6. Debugging is tricky on compilers; debugging is easy in interpreters.
  7. Compilers show errors after checking the entire source code; interpreters display errors for each statement in the code in the specified sequence.
  8. The compiler’s machine code is further processed by hardware; The intermediate code of the interpreter is processed by another specialized program.
  9. Compilers do not require a source code file at run time; interpreters need a source code file for execution at runtime.
  10. In compilers, program execution is done after the compilation stage; interpreters directly execute the program without any compilation.
  11. The compiler uses more memory; The interpreter requires less memory.

Final Thought

Computer architecture and understanding terms associated with it can be a troublesome task and these two terms above are similar that they have several differences between them but they always seem similar to each other. This article therefore seeks to explain the differences between them to help people create a clear understanding.

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