Compilers vs Interpreters : Difference Between Compilers and Interpreters

Humans are capable of understanding almost any natural language, but a computer does not. A computer requires a language translator that can convert human languages into its readable form. Fortunately, compiler and interpreter are two language translators that convert high-level programming languages into machine code that is readable to the computers.So, Let's See What is the   Difference Between Compilers and Interpreters.

Difference Between Compilers and Interpreters
Difference Between Compilers and Interpreters

Now, what is a language translator?

A language translator is a software that translates the programs coded in a high-level programming language to machine code, which is readable to computers. The high-level programming language refers to the source code, and the machine code is typically the machine language of an actual computer.

Why translators are important?

As a computer only understands numbers, you need a translator to translate language in the human-readable form to a language that a computer can understand.

Now that you know the reason behind needing a translator. Here are the type of translators.

     Compiler ( developed by Grace Hopper )

     Interpreter (developed by Steve Russel )

What is a Compiler?

A compiler is a type of high-level computer program that translates human-readable programming language into machine code. It converts the programming language into a binary system which a computer processor can understand.

A programming language must compile with the syntax rule of that programming language. In cases when you are unable to compile with the syntax rule, the program will not process, and the task will not execute.

To execute the program, you need to correct the written program according to the syntax rule of that high-level programming language. However, when you fix the program, you'll be able to run the program over and over again with different inputs, and the program will not need any substituent re-programming.

Phases of Compiler

Now let us understand each stage of the compiler in detail.

     Lexical Analyzer: The lexical analyzer views the code and scans all the characters of the programming language. Then it groups a string of characters into lexemes and generates an output of tokens concerning the programming language.

     Syntax Analyzer: Once the tokens get generated, they get verified by the grammar of their programming language. These expressions authenticated to view the syntactically of the program.

     Intermediate Code Generator: This brings about an equivalent intermediate code from the source code. The intermediate code represents three address codes.

     Code Optimizer: The code optimizer cultivates the time and space requirements of the program. It does so by slaying the redundant code from the program.

     Code Generator: The final phase of the compiler is to generate the code that performs the commanded task. Code generator performs actions like memory management, program register assignments, and machine-specific optimization.  

As now you are clear with the definition and working of the Compiler. Let's move on to Interpreter.

What is an Interpreter?

An interpreter is a computer program that executes instruction written in a high-level language(abstraction independent of particular implementation). In simple words, the role of an interpreter converts the high-level language into the machine codes. Moreover, the converted language does include the source code, pre-compiled code, as well as scripts.

Both interpretation and compilation are two primary means by which programming language is implemented; thus, compiler and interpreter are given the same job of converting high-level programming language to machine code.

Table of difference between Compiler and Interpreter.

Programming steps
     Write a program
     Compile if all the language statements are correct. If incorrect, throws all the errors
     The compiler runs different high-level programming code into runable tasks known as exe.
     The written program runs after correctness. 
     Create a program
     No linking of files takes place and no machine code is generated.
     Execution of source statements is done line by line until the program is executed.
The program code is already converted into machine code resulting in lesser execution time.
These are easier to use, especially for beginners
You need to go back to the source code to change the program.
Interpreted programs can run on systems that have corresponding interpreters.
Machine Code
Stores high-level programming language as machine code in the disk.
Does not store any kind of language.
Running time
Interpreted code runs slower
Based on translation linking-loading
Based on interpretation.
Program Generation
It generates an output program that can run in independently depending upon the source code.
It does not generate output programs, so you need to evaluate at every step of execution.
Program execution is not the same as a compilation. It is only performed when the entire output program is compiled.
The interpreter program execution is executed line by line.

Does not require the compiler in the memory.
The interpreter exists in the memory during interpretation.
Best suited For
C and C++ are the most popular programming language and are best suited for compilation.
For web environment interpreters and best suited.
Code optimization
The compiler sees the entire source code upfront and thus a lot of optimization is done to run the code faster.
The interpreter runs code line by line and thus does not have any robust optimization as a compiler.
Dynamic typing
 Does not support dynamic typing.
The interpreter supports dynamic typing.
Best suited for a production environment.
Best suited for a web development environment.
Error executions
The compiler displays all the errors at the compilation time.
The interpreter uses the single statement and tells the errors, if any.
Requires an entire program.
Requires a single line code.
Generates intermediate machine code.
Does not generate any intermediate machine code.
Displays all the errors at the same time after compilation.
Displays errors line by line.
Pertaining programming languages
C, C++, Scala, JAVA all use a compiler.
PHP, Perl, Ruby all use interpreters.

When we study about compilers and interpreters, one of the questions arises, “why do we need an interpreter when we already have a compiler?”

The differences between the two suggest that the compiler is fast and stores the program, whereas the interpreter is slow and does not require memory and so on. However, the reality is interpreter appears when compilers ain’t performing well and don’t satisfy the need for the development of software.

The following are the reasons for the development of the Interpreter:-

     The interpreter cuts the huge compilation duration. For example, suppose you frequently update a program's source code, and this requires 5 minutes. Now, if you needed to update the source code 5 times, it would cost you 25 minutes, which is quite big. However, if you use an interpreter, you can reduce this compilation duration with a significant margin.

     If you write big source code, the compiler will present all the errors concurrently, making it hard to grasp the error. Whereas an interpreter shows errors statement by statement, and it's easier to detect the mistakes and correct them.

Why Java uses both Compiler as well as Interpreter?

JAVAC or compiler of Java helps to convert the source code into the intermediate file. This intermediate file is also known as the Bytecode file.

Now, one of the problems that the majority of the programmers face is they don’t have to design the different compilers for various operating systems.

A bytecode file is platform-independent and unique for all types of OS.

As the bytecode is generated from the source code, the java interpreter converts the bytecode into a specific OS machine code that runs the program. 

What is a Bytecode file?

Bytecode is just a shorthand language that was developed by Sun Microsystem. The function of a bytecode file is to store each keyword of java as a sign and take one byte of memory in RAM.

The name was then given as Bytecode as it requires only 1 Byte of size in the memory.

The Conclusion

The paras mentioned above have well explained the role, definition, working, and differences. The post signifies that both compiler and interpreter were designed to perform the same task; however, both are operational with different procedures.

Compilers and interpreters have both enhanced the programming era of the world. Be it an interpreter in java or compiler for translating java commands. Both have their pros and cons but have proved their value in the development of various software and applications.

If you have any queries or suggestions, do leave a comment below. We’ll be happy to assist you! So, Here i explained you all the things about What is the  Difference Between Compilers and Interpreters.

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