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What is Interpreter?

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Life would have been dangerous if we had traveled to a foreign country where it would be challenging to communicate in the local tongue. It would be difficult to expect something in return when asked unless we have a translator. Even though we don't travel to a foreign country every day, we interact with a computer, that is unable to grasp any human language. Although we communicate with computers using high-level programming languages, did you realize that these languages aren't the only ones that they can understand? Compilers and interpreters are types of system software that help make the transportation process more efficient. What do these interpreters and compilers do? They're the same, right? Do compilers and interpreters differ in any way?

What is an Interpreter?

A program known as an interpreter runs high-level language commands without translating them into machine code. There are two ways to run a program in programming. both through compilation and an interpreter, in turn. Using a compiler is the usual method.

Types of Interpreters:

Bytecode Interpreters: First, bytecode is created from the original code. A compressed and efficient version of source code is called bytecode. However, it is not the computer code. The compiled code is then run by the bytecode interpreters. The term "compreters" refers to software that uses both compilers and interpreters. A byte comes first in every instruction. They can therefore have 256 instructions.

Threaded Code Interpreters: They employ pointers but are similar to bytecode interpreters. Every directive is a term that serves as a pointer. This pointer designates a function or series of instructions. The number of instructions is not constrained. Memory and address space are available in light of this.

Abstract Syntax Tree Interpreters: The source code is transformed into an abstract syntax tree (AST) by the Abstract Syntax Tree Interpreters. The program is then run in accordance with this tree. It only parses each sentence once. The relationship between statements and the program's structure are both unchanged. It improves the analysis during operations.

Self Interpreters: These interpreters fall under a particular category. They are self-interpreting programming language interpreters, as the name suggests. A BASIC interpreter was developed in BASIC. In the event that a language lacks a compiler, self-interpreters are developed. The incorporation of that language into a host language is necessary for their creation. Another programming language may serve as the host language.

How does an Interpreter Work?

Only high-level languages, or source code, are understandable to humans. However, computers can only understand Programs are written in binary languages, necessitating the use of an interpreter or compiler. There are two techniques to put programming languages into practice: interpretation and compilation. An interpreter, as the name suggests, converts or interprets high-level programming code into machine code or into an intermediate language that may be quickly and readily performed.

Each statement of code is read by the interpreter, who then converts or executes it. In contrast, a compiler or an assembler turns high-level source code into native (compiled) code that the operating system can use right away (e.g. by creating an a.exe program). Since most integrated development environments use both compilation and translation for some high-level languages, compilers and interpreters can be used in tandem since they each have their benefits and drawbacks.

A compiler is typically preferred because it produces results considerably more quickly than a line-by-line interpretation would. The interpreter translates code one statement at a time, rather than scanning the entire program and turning it into machine code as a compiler does. Even if it takes less time to examine source code, especially a large one, an interpreter takes longer to run than a compiler. Additionally, because interpretation occurs per line or statement, it is possible to halt execution in the middle of a program's execution to allow for code modification or debugging.

Contrary to interpreters, which have a tendency to use memory more effectively, compilers must produce intermediate object code, which takes additional memory to be linked. An interpreter is highly helpful for scripting and other tiny programs since it reads and executes code in a single process. As a result, it is frequently set up on Web servers, which execute several executable scripts. In order to avoid having to compile the entire, It is also used during the development stage of a program to test tiny sections of code one at a time. During execution, every source statement will be carried out line by line, which is especially helpful for debugging purposes to spot flaws right away. Hence, interpreters can be used to teach students how to program one script at a time, so they are also employed in educational settings.

Python, Ruby, and JavaScript are examples of programming languages that employ interpreters, whereas Java, C++, and C are examples of programming languages that use compilers.

How Does an Interpreter Differ from a Compiler?

Let's see how Compiler and Interpreter differ:

  • The entire program is scanned by the compiler at once. It translates each statement in the program one at a time.
  • The errors (if any) are displayed collectively at the conclusion since the code is scanned all at once. Errors are displayed line by line since the code is scanned one line at a time.
  • Compilers' speed of execution is their key benefit. It is less desirable since interpreters take a long time to execute the object code.
  • The source code is changed into object code. It examines the source code line by line rather than converting it to object code.
  • For later execution, source code is not necessary. It needs source code in order to be executed later.
  • Only once the entire program has been constructed does it begin to run. Each line of the program is examined or reviewed before being put into action.
  • The disc storage contains the machine code. There is no storage for machine code.
  • The process of studying the source code by compilers frequently takes a long time. In contrast, the analysis of the source code by interpreters takes less time.
  • It is more efficient in the compiler. It is less efficient for interpreters.
  • CPU usage has increased in the compiler. CPU use has decreased in interpreters.

Advantages of Interpreter :

  1. Across Platforms With interpreted languages, we may exchange the source code directly and it will function correctly on any system.
  2. Simpler To Debug Since interpreters examine the code line by line and immediately report the error message, debugging is simpler. Additionally, if a client has access to the source code, they can simply debug or modify the code.
  3. Less memory and fewer steps Interpreters don't create new distinct files as compilers do. As a result, the source code is executed instantly and without the need for additional memory or a second step.
  4. Execution control is Unlike compiled languages, interpreters allow you to pause the execution and make changes to the code at any time by reading the code line by line. If you run the code again after it has been halted, it will restart from the beginning.

Disadvantages of Interpreter :

  1. It is slower because an interpreter reads, evaluates, and translates code line by line, it is frequently slower than a compiler.
  2. A Dependencies file is necessary. To run the code, a client or anybody else who has access to the shared source code has to have an interpreter set up on their computer.
  3. Reduced Security Since an interpreter, unlike compiled languages, doesn't produce an executable file, sharing the source code is the only secure and private way to distribute the program. Therefore, it is bad for any organization or corporation that values its privacy.


A computer program called an interpreter is used to run written code or programs line by line. The interpreter's important feature is that it runs the program line by line, which means it concurrently reads and runs each line of code. Debugging in the interpreter is made simpler by line-by-line code execution since it halts execution when it encounters an error, allowing the developer to go straight to that line to troubleshoot. Code written in programming languages like Perl, MATLAB, Python, and Ruby is executed by an interpreter.

We sincerely hope that this article has clarified what an interpreter is and its benefits and drawbacks.

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Shivam Bhatele

Software Developer, Scaler

I am a Software Developer and I loved to share programming knowledge and interact with new people. My hobbies are coding, reading books, and learning new things.
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