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Language Processors: Assembler, Compiler and Interpreter

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Language Processors –  

Compilers, interpreters, translate programs written in high-level languages into machine code that a computer understands. And assemblers translate programs written in low-level or assembly language into machine code. In the compilation process, there are several stages. To help programmers write error-free code, tools are available.

Assembly language is machine-dependent, yet mnemonics used to represent instructions in it are not directly understandable by machine and high-Level language is machine-independent. A computer understands instructions in machine code, i.e. in the form of 0s and 1s. It is a tedious task to write a computer program directly in machine code. The programs are written mostly in high-level languages like Java, C++, Python etc. and are called source code. These source code cannot be executed directly by the computer and must be converted into machine language to be executed. Hence, a special translator system software is used to translate the program written in a high-level language into machine code is called Language Processor and the program after translated into machine code (object program/object code).  

The language processors can be any of the following three types:  

1. Compiler : 
The language processor that reads the complete source program written in high-level language as a whole in one go and translates it into an equivalent program in machine language is called a Compiler.  Example: C, C++, C#, Java.   

In a compiler, the source code is translated to object code successfully if it is free of errors. The compiler specifies the errors at the end of the compilation with line numbers when there are any errors in the source code. The errors must be removed before the compiler can successfully recompile the source code again the object program can be executed number of times without translating it again. 


2. Assembler :
The Assembler is used to translate the program written in Assembly language into machine code. The source program is an input of an assembler that contains assembly language instructions. The output generated by the assembler is the object code or machine code understandable by the computer. Assembler is basically the 1st interface that is able to communicate humans with the machine. We need an Assembler to fill the gap between human and machine so that they can communicate with each other. code written in assembly language is some sort of mnemonics(instructions) like ADD, MUL, MUX, SUB, DIV, MOV and so on. and the assembler is basically able to convert these mnemonics in Binary code. Here, these mnemonics also depend upon the architecture of the machine. 

For example, the architecture of intel 8085 and intel 8086 are different.

3. Interpreter : 
The translation of a single statement of the source program into machine code is done by a language processor and executes immediately before moving on to the next line is called an interpreter. If there is an error in the statement, the interpreter terminates its translating process at that statement and displays an error message. The interpreter moves on to the next line for execution only after the removal of the error. An Interpreter directly executes instructions written in a programming or scripting language without previously converting them to an object code or machine code. An interpreter translates one line at a time and then executes it.            

Example: Perl, Python and Matlab.


Difference between Compiler and Interpreter – 

A compiler is a program that converts the entire source code of a programming language into executable machine code for a CPU.  
An interpreter takes a source program and runs it line by line, translating each line as it comes to it
The compiler takes a large amount of time to analyze the entire source code but the overall execution time of the program is comparatively faster. 
An interpreter takes less amount of time to analyze the source code but the overall execution time of the program is slower.
The compiler generates the error message only after scanning the whole program, so debugging is comparatively hard as the error can be present anywhere in the program.  Its Debugging is easier as it continues translating the program until the error is met.
The compiler requires a lot of memory for generating object codes.It requires less memory than a compiler because no object code is generated.
Generates intermediate object code. No intermediate object code is generated.
For Security purpose compiler is more useful.The interpreter is a little vulnerable in case of security.
Examples: C, C++, Java  Examples: Python, Perl, JavaScript, Ruby
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Last Updated : 11 Mar, 2023
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