Interpreter (computing)

Interpreter (computing)

In computer science, an interpreter normally means a computer program that executes, i.e. performs, instructions written in a programming language. An interpreter may be a program that either

  1. executes the source code directly
  2. translates source code into some efficient intermediate representation (code) and immediately executes this
  3. explicitly executes stored precompiled code made by a compiler which is part of the interpreter system

Early versions of the Lisp programming language and Dartmouth BASIC would be examples of type 1. Perl, Python, MATLAB, and Ruby are examples of type 2, while UCSD Pascal is an example of type 3. Source programs are compiled ahead of time and stored as machine independent code, which is then linked at run-time and executed by an interpreter and/or compiler (for JIT systems). Some systems, such as Smalltalk, contemporary versions of BASIC, Java and others, may also combine 2 and 3.

While interpreting and compiling are the two main means by which programming languages are implemented, these are not fully mutually exclusive categories, one of the reasons being that most interpreting systems also perform some translation work, just like compilers. The terms "interpreted language" or "compiled language" merely mean that the canonical implementation of that language is an interpreter or a compiler; a high level language is basically an abstraction which is (ideally) independent of particular implementations.

Read more about Interpreter (computing):  History, Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Interpreters, Applications, Punched Card Interpreter

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Interpreter (computing) - Punched Card Interpreter
... The term "interpreter often referred to a piece of unit record equipment that could read punched cards and print the characters in human-readable form on the card ... The IBM 550 Numeric Interpreterand IBM 557 Alphabetic Interpreterare typical examples from 1930 and 1954, respectively ...

Famous quotes containing the word interpreter:

    Man, being the servant and interpreter of nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in the course of nature: beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
    Francis Bacon (1560–1626)