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Difference Between Source Code and Byte Code
  • Last Updated : 08 Sep, 2020

Source code refers to the high-level code or assembly code that is generated by a human/programmer. Source code is easy to read and modify. It is written by the programmer by using any High-Level Language or Intermediate language which is human-readable. Source code contains comments that the programmer puts for better understanding. 

Source code is provided to the language translator which converts it into machine-understandable code which is called machine code or object code. The computer can not understand direct source code, the computer understands the machine code and executes it. It is considered as the fundamental component of the computer. In simple, we can say source code is a set of instructions/commands and statements which is written by a programmer by using a computer programming language like C, C++, Java, Python, Assembly language, etc. So the statements written in any programming language is termed as source code.


Byte code is an intermediate code between the source code and machine code. It is a low-level code that is the result of the compilation of a source code which is written in a high-level language. It is processed by a virtual machine like Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Byte code is a non-runnable code after it is translated by an interpreter into machine code then it is understandable by the machine. It is compiled to run on JVM, any system congaing JVM can run it irrespective of their Operating System. That’s why Java is platform-independent. Byte code is referred to as a Portable code.

The below figure illustrates the arrangement of source code and byte code –

Difference between Source Code and Byte Code

Difference between Source Code and Byte Code:


Source Code

Byte Code

01. Source code is written by a human or programmer. Byte code is not written by humans or programmers.
02. It is written by using some high-level programming language. Byte code is an intermediate code between the source code and machine code.
03. It is the input to the compiler and it is translated by the compiler or other language translator. It is the input to the interpreter
04. The source code is not directly understandable by the system/machine. Byte code is executable by a virtual machine.
05. The source code may contain comments. Byte code does not contain comments.
06. Source code is in the form of plain text similar to the English language. Byte code is in the form of numeric codes and constants.
07. Source code is more understandable by humans. Byte code is less understandable by humans.
08. Its speed is minimum than the byte code. Its speed is maximum than the source code.
09. The performance of source code is less than byte code.  The performance of the byte code is more than the source code.
10. It is a high-level code. It is an intermediate-level code.

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